Preview Racing

Famous Shining Star Heads Field To The Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels At Los Alamitos
Grade 1 winner Famous Shining Star will head a strong field in the Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

Amber Mendez
Famous Shining Star Heads Field To The Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels At Los Alamitos

LOS ALAMITOS, CA–SEPTEMBER 10, 2023–The nation’s premier race for fillies and mares will celebrate its 50th running when a tremendous field of nine distaffers square off in the Grade 1, $125,000 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on Saturday night at Los Alamitos.

First held in 1974 as the Miss Princess Invitational, this race has historically been the showcase event for top distaffers in the nation. Its list of winners is second to none with names like the D. Wayne Lukas-trained She’s Precious, Champion of Champions winner Miss Thermolark, the millionaire Florentine, the great Junos Request, and the AQHA World Champion Dash For Speed among its first 20 winners.

The race was named the Anne Burnett Invitational from 1981 to 1994. After the passing of Mildred "Millie" Vessels, the matriarch of Los Alamitos Race Course, in 1992, this race was renamed in her honor in 1995. The Mildred Vessels also became of the elite racing events that offered its winner with a presumptive berth to the prestigious Grade 1 Champion of Champions.

Since 1995, Dashing Folly (1996) and Blues Girl Too (2007) are the only two to have won the Champion of Champions in the same year in which they won the Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap. They were both honored with the title of AQHA World Champions after completing this impressive double.

Nine standouts, including eight stakes winners, will now face each other with the goal of winning the golden anniversary running of the Mildred Vessels. The field will be headed by multiple stakes winners Famous Shining Star, Sweet Tess, and Letty Cartel but the depth of quality in this group is outstanding.

Owned by Johnny Trotter and trained by Jose Flores, Famous Shining Star has been the top mare on the grounds this year having gone a perfect four for four in 2023. She began her 5-year-old campaign by winning the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap on New Year’s Day and from there the daughter of One Famous Eagle added victories in the Check Her Twice Stakes and the Q Racing California Distaff Challenge. Cruz Mendez will ride her from the outside post number nine.

Edward and Patricia DeNike’s Sweet Tess won the Los Alamitos Oaks and the Justanold Love Stakes last year, while finishing third in the Charger Bar and second in the Miss Princess Handicap this year. Oscar Peinado will be aboard for trainer Pat Visscher.

EG High Desert Farms’ homebred Letty Cartel won the $100,000 Abigail Kawananakoa on June 11 and the Restricted Grade 3 Matron Stakes for California-breds on July 29. EG High Desert Farms has won the Mildred Vessels twice before first in 2010 with homebred Merridoc Hawk and then in 2018 with Jess Ravin.

Ed Allred’s She Goes Up won the Governor’s Cup Futurity in 2021 and the La Pacifica in 2022. She was second to Letty Cartel in the Matron Stakes. This field will include two other mares with stakes victories at Los Alamitos in 2023. Daniel and Carol Lee’s CR Lady Moon won both the Miss Princess and Denim N Diamonds and has finished second in pair of other stakes this year.

Raymond Merrill’s Jess Dream Of Me won the Florentine in her last start and was third to Sweet Tess in last year’s Los Alamitos Oaks. She also raced in the 2021 All American Futurity.

The three others in this race are Kelly Yother Equine LLC’s A Dream To Fill, winner of the Speedhorse Derby in her most recent start, Ben Peterson’s stakes winner Lil Longmire, who was second to Famous Shining Star in the Q-Racing California Distaff, and Dean Frey’s Toxic Relationship, a half-sister to 2021 AQHA World Champion Danjer and the third place finisher in the Q-Racing California Distaff.

Saturday’s card will also feature the $25,000 Go Josie Go Handicap for fillies and mares at 350 yards. Six distaffers will be in action in this race headed by Governor’s Cup Derby finalist Phoebes Baby Girl, Golden State Derby finalist Budder Off Friends, and Dashingly Handicap winner Koalition.

All Prettied Up, Relentless Pressure, and La Beverly Hills will complete the field. 

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