Mardi Gras Futurity and Derby
Mardi Gras Futurity and Derby
A solid field of accredited Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds put on a very entertaining show in the first official futurity of the year, the $305,296 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) today at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
HH Gailforce, the third-fastest qualifier, scored a mile upset over fastest qualifier Tf Shez Jess Dashin and was greeted in the winner’s circle by a very happy group of owners. Egoizzta Partnership consists of Juan, Joel and Jose Cantu as well as Eric Hinojosa. They made the trip to Louisiana last year and purchased the filly for $12,000 in the 2018 LQHBA Yearling Sale. The daughter of Freighttrain B, out of the First Prize Perry mare Open My Prize, a half-sister to Open Me A Corona, is trained by Joel Cantu. The January 11th foal was bred by Harvey Hayes.
“It’s a partnership with my brothers and cousin,” explained trainer Joel Cantu. “At the LQHBA Sale, we didn’t know what to buy; there were so many horses! We looked at the pedigree and the mare is a sister to Open Me A Corona. It was a big race for us and Luciano!”
Duenez guided the filly to her trial win on February 23 and felt that she improved today, surging to the wire of the 300-yard final in a final time of 15.399 seconds over the fast main track.
“In the trial, she ran a little green,” said Duenez. “This is a biggest futurity of my career.”
TF Shez Jess Dashin, a filly by Sir Runaway Dash, ran a game second under leading rider Everardo Rodriguez for Down South Racing LLC and trainer Ned Goutierrez III. Patriot on Ice, a gelded son of Jet Black Patriot, closed for third under J.R. Ramirez. He is owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr., who will be honored as the 2018 LQHBA Champion Owner next month. Heza Fast Train, also sired by Freighttrain Be, completed the superfecta with Manuel Gutierrez picking up the mount for owner Juan F. Martinez, who owns Tdz Louisiana Toast, winner of the Mardi Gras Derby earlier on the card.
Streakin Fast Rogue, Escandalo, Jj Jess an Meteorite Jrs Sir Pop a Top, Jrs Duel Fantasy and Mr Achievement B completed the order of finish.
Sent off at odds of 7-1, Hh Gailforce returned $16.20 for the win, and picked up a check for $137,384 in her second career start. Cantu reported that she is paid into both the Lassie and Lee Berwick Futurities at Delta Downs, but will wait to see how she comes out of today’s championship before confirming her next start.
Since its first running in 1988, the Mardi Gras Futurity launched the career of many of Louisiana’s greatest Quarter Horse champions. Vals Fortune won the 2003 edition of the Mardi Gras Futurity and the Heath Taylor trainee went on to win 20 of his 23 starts, becoming the first Louisiana-bred millionaire. Five years later, Jet Black Patriot, bred and owned by Richard and Janelle Simon, stamped his name in the record books, winning the Mardi Gras, Lee Berwick and LQHBA Breeders Futurity, with a runner-up finish in the All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs as well.
On March 20, Cantu reported that HH Gailforce made a safe return to their farm in Roma, Texas, on Sunday.
“She’s doing really well,” said Cantu. “It still hasn’t sunk in that we won such a big futurity. We thought we had a chance, but knew it was a tough field. This is such a nice filly; just real calm in the barn and loves to lay down and take it easy. We are so grateful!”
Cantu confirmed that HH Gailforce is paid into the Lassie and Lee Berwick Futurities at Delta Downs as well as the LQHBA Louisiana Million in December at Evangeline Downs, but no decisions have been made yet about her next start.
Fastest Qualifier Tdz Louisiana Toast Blazes to Victory in the $120,782 Mardi Gras Derby
The $120,782 Mardi Gras Derby for accredited Louisiana-breds, with the richest purse in the history of the championship, went to Tdz Louisiana Toast.
The son of Jess Louisiana Blue out of the Toast to Dash mare Shes a Royal Toast was bred in Louisiana by Tony Doughtie. He set the fastest qualifying time in seven trials run on February 24 for owner Juan F. Martinez, and reunited today with rider Manuel Gutierrez for his sixth lifetime victory.
Tdz Louisiana Toast was the runner-up in the 2018 Mardi Gras Futurity to Guidry Pride II, and went on to win trials in both the LQHBA Sale Futurity and LQHBA Louisiana Million. He finished his 2-year-old season with a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile at Fair Grounds and entered the final as the heavy favorite. He left the gates in front, and never relinquished his lead, drawing off by a margin of 2 ¾ lengths, covering 400 yards in :19.478.
Trainer Alonso Neri was asked about the interlude between the trials and today’s impressive run in the final, in which he posted a speed index of 106.
“I just let him be himself,” said Neri. “He’s such a great horse and his performance speaks for itself. He’s really good.”
“I want to thank the owner and all the people for their support,” added Gutierrez. “The horse is perfect.”
Heza Made Man, winner of the LQHBA Louisiana Million Juvenile for trainer Joe Davis, rallied second under rider Jorge Linares. Longshot Follow My Wagon and jockey John Hamilton completed the trifecta and Zoomin Patriot, who ran fourth in the $700,000 Lee Berwick Futurity last July at Delta Downs, finished fourth. Five Bar Perry, Apollitical Black, Louisiana Lighting and Royal Renegade followed.
Tdz Louisiana Toast ($3.40) earned $56,033, increasing his lifetime bankroll to $169,073. No plans are in the works yet for the winner; Neri indicated he and Martinez will discuss in the near future.
Stone Cold Leader Impressive in the $15,000 Leverne Perry Memorial
The third stakes of the card, the $15,000 Leverne Perry Memorial, is named in honor of the esteemed breeder and Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) Executive Director Emeritus.
The 400-yard feature attracted a field of ten with Patrick Richardson’s Stone Cold Leader installed as the heavy favorite, and fully living up to his top billing.
The Indiana-bred son of Brookstone Bay has continued his stakes winning ways since capturing two futurities in 2017 at Indiana Grand. When trainer Joe Davis relocated to Louisiana last year, Stone Cold Leader continued to be one of the stars of the stable, taking both the Firecracker Derby at Delta Downs and the Evangeline Downs Derby last December. The 4-year-old gelding has bankrolled $426,333 to date.
Breaking from post position six, under regular rider Rolando Pina, Stone Cold Leader forged ahead of his ten rivals, scoring by 1 ½ lengths in :19.556.
“It’s hard to describe how good he is,” said Pina. “He’s the best one I have ever ridden. He loved it out there today; gets faster every time.”
Davis credited his family and team for the tenth win in 19 lifetime starts.
“He’s been invited to the Remington Park Invitational, so we needed to get a race in,” said Davis. “I might find a race for him at Delta, but am leaning toward just training him up to that.”
Richardson, who lives in South Carolina, was on hand with a great group of supporters.
“I was a little hesitant about buying a racehorse,” he admitted. “It’s been a blessing to me and my family. We did great in Indiana; when Joe came to Louisiana, I told him we would go with him.”
Louisiana Seis was the runner-up under Luis Vivanco, followed by Mystical Jess and Sizzlin on Da Bayou.
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