Sent to post as the 5-2 second choice in a full field of 10 3-year-olds, Eagle Coast responded with a neck victory in Saturday's 440-yard, $1,008,129 Rainbow Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs.
Eagle Coast covered his quarter-mile trip in :21.295 under cloudy skies. Jose Luis Muela prepped the sorrel One Dashing Eagle gelding for owner Ernesto Palacio, giving the trainer his first career Grade 1 victory.
"He broke a little slow," said Becerra Jr., who also was earning his first Grade 1 win. "I went to the left hand (with the crop), and then the right hand. He hooked with (runner-up) Five Bar Stoli and just left him."
Eagle Coast was bred in Missouri by Jim Streelman and Bill Dale. The gelding has won five of 11 starts, and the $423,415 winner's share of the purse from his second graded stakes win and first Grade 1 score increased his earnings to $663,103, of which $427,455 has been banked this season.
Eagle Coast's defeated opponents in the Rainbow Derby included Apocalyptical Jess, last year's champion 2-year-old gelding and winner of the 440-yard, $3-million All American Futurity (G1), American Quarter Horse racing's richest and most prestigious race. The fastest qualifier and 11-10 favorite, Apocalyptical Jess finished third, one length behind runner-up Five Bar Stoli, in the Rainbow Derby.
"It's very exciting," said Palacios. "Last year, Eagle Coast won (his trial) two times but did not qualify. I've wanted to go against Apocalyptical Jess since the All American (Futurity) trials."
Eagle Coast's 2-year-old resume includes a victory in the Grade 2, 400-yard Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park.
Mystic Blues finished fourth and was followed by Sc Money Maker, Breaking New Ground, Tres Jazz, America Rules, Excessive Gambler, and Shockinglyfamous.
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