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Ochoa Sets Earnings Record in All American Derby

Gelding completes All American sweep with another impressive performance at Ruidoso Downs.

September 2, 2012

Ochoa wins the All American Derby

Ochoa sets the all-time earnings record in the All American Derby (Andrea Caudill photo)

American Quarter Horse racing has a new leader on top of the all-time earnings list after Ochoa scored a dominating victory in the $2,234,540 All American Derby (G1) on Sunday in front of a crowd of 20,932 at Ruidoso Downs. It’s only fitting that Ochoa broke the record in the 440-yard race that sets its own record for the richest Quarter Horse purse for any race for 3-year-olds or older.

Breaking from the outside Post 9 after the scratch of A Toss Up, Ochoa and jockey Roy Baldillez battled for the early lead and then drew clear to win by 1 ¼ lengths with a clocking of :21.272 over a fast track with no wind. The first-place check for $938,507 increased Ochoa’s earnings to $2,584,243. Bred in Texas out of the Stoli mare Stolis Fortune by John Jones Jr. Interests Ltd., Ochoa runs for Jones’ J Bar 7 Ranch LLC, Monte and Katsy Cluck and Douglas Benson. Ochoa's sire, champion Tres Seis standing at JEH Stallion Station Texas, finished second in both the All American Futurity and Derby. 

“He broke good,” said Baldillez. “The inside horse (Testing The Ice) had us beat by about a neck in the first 50 yards. After 50 yards, Ochoa turned it on and from then on he did it by himself. The farther he goes, the better he gets. He’s an awesome horse.”

“It feels great,” said trainer C. Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath. “He’s just a great horse and he’s the richest earning horse as a 3-year-old. We’d like to run him some more and increase the record. I was just concerned that he might get into trouble, but once I saw he had a place to run I wasn’t worried.

“I've trained two of the best horses I've ever had in my career the last two years,” added Gilbreath about Ochoa and reigning world champion Cold Cash 123. “I hate to see them hook up together. They probably will one of these days, but I'd rather it be later.”

Gilbreath said Ochoa would likely be pointed to the Texas Classic Derby (G1) at Lone Star. This victory also earned him a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos Race Course in California.

“Everyone always wants to come by and see the horse,” said Jed Vane, Gilbreath’s assistant. “Sleepy’s been keeping them away this week. He said come by the day after the race and you can come look at him all you want. Everyone wants to go up to the stall and play with him, and (Ochoa) loves it. He comes to the front of the stall and they will pet him and he’ll play with them. But when they leave, he goes back in his stall and he’s all business.”

Last year’s champion 2-year-old gelding and champion 2-year-old, Ochoa finished third in the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) before cruising to a 1 ½-length win in the All American Futurity (G1). He took the rest of the year off after that effort and returned to compete in the Ruidoso Derby (G1), where he finished a troubled ninth and missed hitting the board for the first time in his career. He got back on track with wins in his trial and the final of the Rainbow Derby (G1), and then he scored by 2 lengths in his All American Derby trial to set up his chance to make history.

“I thought when he was clear he was going to win,” said Jones. “He's just an awesome horse, and we're very fortunate to own him. We're very fortunate to have bred him, and we're very fortunate that the Lord blessed us with him.

“I've gotta give all the credit to (trainer) Sleepy (Gilbreath),” he added. “I didn't sleep with him, but Sleepy did.”

World champion Stolis Winner, just recently officially retired, is now second on the all-time earnings list at $2,235,161.

“I’m not a bit disappointed that Ochoa broke the record,” said Jerry Windham, the breeder and owner of Stolis Winner. “Great horses are meant to break records.”

Johnny Trotter’s Hez Our Secret, a First Down Dash colt bred by Vessels Stallion Farm LLC, got up to take second with Ricky Ramirez riding for trainer Blane Wood. The California-bred more than tripled his bankroll to $577,985.

“We broke decent; not super sharp but decent,” said Ramirez. “About 100 yards out, (Testing The Ice) hazed me out. He didn’t hit me but kind of hazed me out. Coming to the wire I was in the middle between (Testing The Ice and Jess Featureme Quick), and I nosed them out. I never saw Ochoa until the wire. I was going to run second to him regardless. He’s an awesome horse – fast, impressively fast.”

Jess Featureme Quick took third in his stakes debut for breeder/owner Melissa Ann Miller and trainer Paul Jones. Ramon Sanchez rode the Feature Mr Jess gelding.

“Everybody wants to win it, but third-place for the horse who was picked to finish last, we couldn't be any more excited,” said Miller.

Testing The Ice finished fourth, followed by Bills Last, Linda Tee Fire, Eyein This Feature, Lotta Love For Robyn and BPs Jumpin Frisco. A Toss Up was scratched.