Executive Brass Takes Ruidoso Derby

Gelding comes through to earn first stakes victory against Grade 1 company.

June 9, 2012

John Thurmond and Sherree Meridyth’s Executive Brass proved best in a field that included champion 2-year-old Ochoa and champion 2-year-old colt Feature Mr Bojangles to win the Grade 1, $679,207 Ruidoso Derby on Saturday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

A $25,000 supplemental nominee to race in the Ruidoso Derby trials, Executive Brass fought to a neck win over Dashing Vike with RC Black Mamba just another nose back for third.

Bonifacio Perez was up for the win in :20.099 for the 400 yards while facing a 25 mile-per-hour headwind.

Ochoa and Feature Mr Bojangles were never in the battle after severe problems at the start. Feature Mr Bojangles was in the fifth post position and broke out and bumped into Whirlaway Red. Meanwhile, Ochoa, in the seventh post position, stumbled at the start and then broke inward and hit Whirlaway Red from the outside. Feature Mr Bojangles, the 9-5 second choice, finished fifth. Ochoa was ninth as the 17-10 favorite and Whirlaway Red – who was hammered from each side – was last in the 10-horse field.

“It’s an honor for me just to be in a race like this with great champions like Ochoa and Feature Mr Bojangles and trainers like ‘Sleepy’ Gilbreath. It’s an honor to run in a race with the best against the best,” trainer J.J. Gonzales II said.

Executive Brass earned the win with his stellar effort after setting the fastest-qualifying time in the trials. He won his trial by one length as the 7-5 favorite with a :20.121 time for the 400 yards.

“He broke super good,” said jockey Bonifacio Perez. “I was patient with him and he found his stride and I urged him to the finish.”

After winning two of eight starts against lesser company last year, Executive Brass was gelded in December and his career has taken off with four wins from four starts this year. He won his West Texas Derby (G3) trial but did not qualify to the final and then took a Sunland Park allowance race before heading up to Ruidoso Downs and impressing with his win in his Ruidoso Derby trial.

Executive Brass, a son of Executive Menace bred in Texas by Scarlett Hill Farm Inc., is not eligible for the Rainbow Derby (G1) or the All American Derby (G1). Gonzales said it will be a step-by-step decision to decide if he will be supplemented to those important Grade 1 races, which are two of the three richest derbies in Quarter Horse racing.

Robert and Dolores Gerhardt’s runner-up Dashing Vike, trained by Carlos Sedillo, stepped up with a competitive effort after finishing third in his trial behind Feature Mr Bojangles and RC Black Mamba. The First Down Dash colt won his maiden four starts ago on March 3 at Sunland Park and has developed into a force in the Grade 1 derby division at Ruidoso Downs.

Fredda Draper and Lola Willis’ RC Black Mamba was part of a sensational afternoon for trainer Carl Draper, who also won the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) with PJ Chick In Black. A daughter of Desirio, like PJ Chick In Black, RC Black Mamba was highly regarded early in her juvenile season when she set the fastest-qualifying time to the West Texas Futurity (G1) in her racing debut.

RC Black Mamba earned her spot in the Ruidoso Derby with a second behind Feature Mr Bojangles in their Ruidoso Derby trial while defeating Dashing Vike.