Noconi to Retire after Gold Cup

Millionaire to make final start on September 2 at Ruidoso Downs.

August 25, 2012

Noconi

From left, Johnny T.L. Jones Jr., Noconi, R.D. Hubbard * Ty Wyant Photo

R.D. Hubbard and Johnny T.L. Jones Jr.’s homebred Noconi will make his final career start on Sunday, September 2, in the Grade 3, $40,000 All American Gold Cup, a 440-yard race he has won the last two years.

Highlighting the Sunday card will be the Grade 1, $2,234,539 All American Derby and champion Ochoa, who is co-owned by Jones, trying to become Quarter Horse racing’s all-time leading money earner.

Noconi, the 2008 champion 3-year-old gelding and 2009 champion aged gelding, has earned $1,340,159 from 35 starts and all of those starts – except a Ruidoso Downs maiden race and a $37,000 allowance race – have come in graded stakes or trials. He has never started in a listed (non-graded) stakes.

A son of Mr Jess Perry and broodmare of the year My Dashing Lady, Noconi has been trained throughout his career by Paul Jones, and his assistant trainer Lisa Saumell has overseen his daily care in New Mexico. His only starts outside of New Mexico have been one start each at Los Alamitos, Remington Park and Lone Star Park.

Within New Mexico, Noconi won the Grade 1 All American Derby over Heartswideopen, the Grade 1 The Championship at Sunland Park and the Grade 1 Zia Park Championship. He also has graded stakes win in the All American Gold Cup (twice), Higheasterjet Handicap (twice), La Plata Stakes, Lovington Handicap, Mr Jet Moore Stakes and Hobbs America Derby. He was third in the Grade 1 Rainbow Derby.

“He was very studdish,” Saumell said. “We gelded him (as a 2-year-old) and that made all the difference.”

He was winless at two and concluded his juvenile season with the second in the Hobbs America Futurity. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of his earnings came as a 3-year-old and older horse.

“He has been ‘the guy’ in the barn. He’s a superstar. He’s like Planet Holland. They were born racehorses,” Saumell said. “He’s very intelligent. You can see it in his eyes.

“He goes out to the track every third day at 6:00 a.m., not 6:15; he knows the difference. It’s the same at feeding time. It’s like that with every good horse. They are very intelligent. You just take care of them.

“My favorite race of his was the All American Derby when he beat Heartswideopen. I was very proud of him that night.”

Noconi enters retirement in excellent condition. When Saumell told the farrier that he was putting on Noconi’s final set of racing plates, the farrier responded, “Why are you retiring him? There’s not a mark on these legs.”

Saumell says that it will be a “sad-happy day” when he leaves the barn, but she is very appreciative of Hubbard and Jones.

“I am very thankful that they are letting him go out with pride,” she said.

Noconi will spend his retirement at Jones’ ranch in Quanah, Texas.