Garrett Gomez, shown aboard Tiz a Minister, won both divisions of the California Breeders Champion Stakes.

Garrett Gomez, shown aboard Tiz a Minister, won both divisions of the California Breeders Champion Stakes.

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Gomez Boots Home Pair of Cal Breeders Winners

Jockey brings both Qiaona and Tiz a Minister from far back in rich state-bred races.

Jockey Garrett Gomez won both divisions of the $300,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes for 3-year-olds in remarkably similar fashion Jan. 26 at Santa Anita Park, bringing both Qiaona and Tiz a Minister from far off the pace.

In the filly division of the one-mile test for California-breds, Qiaona rallied from 10th at the quarter pole to prevail by a half-length at odds of 23-1 for owners Curt and Lila Lanning and trainer Ed Moger Jr (VIDEO).

"The race actually just kind of fell apart," Gomez said. "My horse just kept going at the same speed and when I turned for home I told her to go and I picked off a couple of horses. Then all of a sudden I started to pick them off left and right, but she never really accelerated much. She just kept doing what she was doing and the horses up front were looking to be done."

One race later, Gomez booted home the colt Tiz a Minister, who was eighth at the quarter pole, to score by 1 1/4 lengths as a 9-1 chance for owners S.A.Y. Racing and trainer Paul Aguirre (VIDEO).

"It was an exact copy of what happened in the last race," Gomez noted afterward. "This little horse was running. I cranked him up, he settled in behind them and he traveled well. He was really turned off all the way on the backside and when I had to get him up a little bit he did so willingly. When I angled him out he really did go to running and I got him to switch leads."

Both races were contested in wet fast conditions over a sealed track. Each victory was worth $165,000 to the winning connections.

Qiaona was timed in 1:37.35 after running down a tiring Unusual Way in the last strides, with pacesetter Marks Mine finishing third. Doinghardtimeagain, the 2-1 favorite in the field of 11 fillies, finished fourth.

The winner, who carried 117 pounds, five fewer than the runner-up, paid $48.60, $17, and $9.40, and keyed a $296 exacta. Unusual Way paid $5.80 and $4.40, and Marks Mine returned $8.

Qiaona, who was coming off a maiden victory in her seventh start Dec. 6 at Betfair Hollywood Park, bumped her earnings to  $228,010. A $4,500 Barretts yearling buy in October 2011, the chestnut filly was bred by B & B Zietz Stables and is by Wilko out of the Skywalker mare Starlet Sky.

Tiz a Minister stopped the clock in 1:36.56 while sweeping past 4-5 favorite Omega Star in deep stretch. Surfcup finished 2 1/2 lengths farther back in third in the field of 10 colts and geldings.

The victor carried 117 pounds and paid $21.40, $6.20, and $4.60, topping a $65 exacta. Omega Star returned $2.60 and $2.20, while the show price on Surfcup was $4.80.

Tiz a Minister, recording his second win from nine starts, was making his first start on dirt. In his previous race, a one-mile starter allowance on grass Jan. 10 at Santa Anita, the son of Ministers Wildcat ran a fast-closing second, edged by half a length. The win extended his earnings to $246,780.

A $6,500 yearling buy out of the same Barretts auction that Qiaona was purchased at, the winning dark bay or brown colt was bred by Dahlberg Farms and is out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tiz a Mistress.