It was a whirlwind campaign for Aloha West in 2021.
In just 10 short months, he made the leap from debut winner to Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding male sprinter on the strength of his dramatic win in the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Aloha West was up for a nose victory in the Nov. 6 race at Del Mar. It was his first stakes win and after the race owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners were flanked in the winner’s circle by trainer Wayne Catalano and jockey Jose Ortiz.
“I’m surrounded by class,” Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, told Daily Racing Form. “And of course, the horse deserves the most credit of all. There’s no telling how good he could be.
“Wayne has done just an incredible job developing this colt. To start your career at 4, in February, and win the Breeders’ Cup 10 months later, that’s master horsemanship. To accomplish that is monumental.”
Aloha West won a maiden special weight over six furlongs on Feb. 7 at Oaklawn Park. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners purchased the horse after his second out, and Catalano ran the horse through his allowance conditions before stepping him up into Grade 2 company for the Phoenix in October at Keeneland. Aloha West was second by a neck in a performance that earned him a shot at the Breeders’ Cup.
In the championship race, Aloha West could see the field in the early stages before advancing steadily and showing determination through the stretch to catch Dr. Schivel. Aloha West covered six furlongs in 1:08.49 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.
“I knew coming into the race I was riding a horse that couldn’t be doing any better,” Ortiz said, “but I also knew speed holds pretty good [at Del Mar]. I was very happy when we hit the quarter pole, but I wasn’t sure I had enough time to catch him. I don’t ride here on a daily basis, so I just rode hard, three or four jumps past the wire. I thought I caught him, but I wasn’t sure.”
Neither was Catalano.
“I didn’t know if we got up or not,” Catalano said. “The first shot I saw on the screen I thought we got beat, the second I wasn’t sure, and the third one, well, maybe we got up. At my age, sweating those things out can be a little hard. Fortunately, they hung the number up pretty quickly. I don’t know how much longer I could have stood the suspense.”
Aloha West is a son of Hard Spun and the Grade 3-winning mare Island Bound, who is by Speightstown. Aloha West was bred in Maryland by Robert T. Manfuso and Katharine M. Voss. The horse has won 5 of 9 starts and earned $1,311,068.