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Wicked Courage Headlines All American Derby Trials

Gelding set to go for 10th straight win and a chance at a sweep of Ruidoso Downs’ Grade 1 derbies.

August 11, 2013

Andrew Smith’s Wicked Courage tries to take the next step toward sweeping the three Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs and secure his 10th consecutive victory when he heads the 10 trials to the all-time record-setting Grade 1, $2,809,000 All American Derby on Saturday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

The horses with the 10 fastest times from the 440-yard trials compete for the largest purse in American Quarter Horse racing history on September 1 in the All American Derby. The previous record purse in the All American Derby was $2,234,539 set last year.

The All American Derby also has the largest purse for any 3-year-old race in North America. The purse surpasses the $2,180,000 purse for the Kentucky Derby and the $1 million purses for the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the three legs of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. The total purses for the three derbies this summer at Ruidoso Downs exceed $4,686,000, compared to $4,180,000 for the Thoroughbred Triple Crown races.

First post time for the All American Derby trials is noon with the 10 trials joining the 550-yard Brigand Stakes on the impressive card. Following the racing, the New Mexico-bred Sale will be held at the nearby sales pavilion.

The top-ranked older horse in the AQHARacing.com/Horseplayernow.com national poll, Wicked Courage’s sensational campaign this summer at Ruidoso Downs has been highlighted by his neck win in the Grade 1, $822,000 Ruidoso Derby and his one-length domination of the Grade 1, $1,055,000 Rainbow Derby for Oklahoma-based trainer Luis Villafranco.

If the Captain Courage son can win the All American Derby, he will join My Easy Credit (1977), Dash For Speed (1988) and DM Shicago (2005) as the horses to sweep the three derbies at Ruidoso Downs. When My Easy Credit and Dash For Speed recorded their sweeps, the first derby of the summer season was called the Kansas Derby.

In the Rainbow Derby, his latest start, Wicked Courage covered the 440 yards in :21.190 over a sealed track labeled wet fast and pushed his earnings past the $1 million mark.

“He’s getting more serious about his job,” said winning jockey Cody Jensen after the race. “He’s finally maturing and, even though he isn’t a big horse, he is one of the truest quarter-mile horses I’ve been on in a long time.”

Jensen has been aboard Wicked Courage for eight of his nine-straight wins and has the mount with the sixth post position in the 10th trial.

Owned by Denny Bowen, Susan Taylor and Jack Smith Farms, 2012 champion 2-year-old filly PJ Chick In Black is not just fortunate to be in the All American Derby trials, she is lucky to be alive. The filly was involved in a horrific trailer accident on July 15 near Abilene, Texas, when she was traveling to Ruidoso to compete as one of the favorites in the Rainbow Derby. The trailer flipped over with PJ Chick In Black inside, on her back, covered by shavings and mats. She only received minor lacerations that required two sutures. She was back in training at Ruidoso Downs for the All American Derby trials within a week of the accident. She was scratched from the Rainbow Derby, which was run the day she returned to Ruidoso Downs.

“She’s doing very well. It’s amazing,” said trainer John Stinebaugh.

Last year, PJ Chick In Black won the Grade 1, $600,000 Ruidoso Futurity and the New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) during a career-starting five-race winning streak. She wrapped up that winning streak in her All American Futurity (G1) trial when she won by 5 ¾ lengths with the fastest qualifying time from 26 trials of :21.081 for 440 yards. She then finished a troubled sixth in the Grade 1, $2.4 million All American as the 7-10 favorite.

The Desirio daughter started another winning streak when Stinebaugh brought her back at Sunland Park this spring. She won her West Texas Derby trial, the Grade 3 West Texas Derby and her Ruidoso Derby trial. However, she raced into a 28 mile per hour headwind in her Ruidoso Derby trial and then the wind shifted to a tailwind. Her time was not fast enough to qualify for the final while the top-nine qualifiers came out of wind-aided trials.

PJ Chick In Black won her Rainbow Derby trial by a neck as the 2-5 favorite with the fifth-fastest time of :21.033 for her ninth win from 10 starts.

Esgar Ramirez has been the only jockey aboard PJ Chick In Black and they start from the seventh post position in the fourth trial.

Noel Lopez-Prieto’s Brace For Bernal, a stablemate of Wicked Courage from the Villafranco barn, is a $50,000 supplemental nominee and faces PJ Chick In Black in the fourth trial. He rides a six-race winning streak, highlighted by the $253,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby (R) and the Grade 2, $285,780 Heritage Place Derby this spring. He won the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby by one length and then took the Heritage Place Derby by 1 ½ lengths. The Furyofthewind son is now the nation’s fourth-ranked older horse and second-ranked 3-year-old.

Paul Nieto rides Brace For Bernal with the second post position.

Antonio Delgado Jr.’s Tejas Energy B is the other $50,000 supplement on the strength of winning his latest three races. He capped the winning streak with a one-half length win in the $59,000 Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge on May 18 for trainer Judd Kearl.

Tejas Energy B is in the ninth trial with the sixth post position and Rodrigo Aceves rides.

Also in the All American Derby trials are Rainbow Futurity (G1) winner Carters Cookie, Hobbs America Futurity (G2) winner A Dream To Remember, Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) winner One Handsome Man, El Primero Del Ano Derby (G2) winner Mr Ease Cartel, Higheasterjet Handicap (G3) winner Lighting Regard, Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity (R) winner Lota Pyc, All American Futurity runner-up Sudden Thoughts, El Primero Del Ano Derby runner-up Henoshersecret, Golden State Million Futurity (G1) runner-up Separate Interest, Ruidoso Futurity runner-up Krash Cartel, All American Futurity third-place finisher Aha Moment, Ruidoso Derby third-place finisher Sugardaddy B, Rainbow Derby third-place finisher Joker On Jack and Ruidoso Derby runner-up Ill Stop The World.

The top-three times from each of the trials will be tweeted as soon as they are released by officials. Just follow @RuiPressBox.

For complete Ruidoso Downs’ information, go to www.raceruidoso.com, visit the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino Facebook page. For Rainbow Futurity/Derby and All American Futurity/Derby insights, check out allamerican-ruidoso.com.