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December 29, 2013
Feature Mr Bojangles, a Grade 1 winner who had been close but failed to find the winner’s circle in his last 11 outs, roared back into the American Quarter Horse racing limelight with a neck win in the 13th running of the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on Sunday.
With jockey Cody Jensen in the irons, Feature Mr Bojangles broke fast from the outside #10 post position and was a major threat in the early stages of the 400-yard classic. The 4-year-old stallion by Feature Mr Jess accelerated to the front in mid-stretch and continued to pour on the speed from his outside draw. The 3-1 favorite was clearly at his best for trainer Paul Jones. Coming off two close stakes-placed efforts, Feature Mr Bojangles put it all together in the Championship and regained his Grade 1 form. His other stakes wins include the Rainbow Futurity (G1), Hobbs America Futurity (G2) and Four Corners Futurity.
Jensen said in a post-race interview, “We had a near perfect start from a good post position, and it made for a very clean trip. This was the first time he had been on the outside, and I think he liked it. He ran with every ounce of energy he had.”
Assistant trainer Lisa Saumell said, “This was a bittersweet victory. This race was absolutely loaded. Any horse could have won it. This is a perfect way to end his career. He’s a beautiful stallion and going to make a great stud. We want to thank Cody for coming. Cody has always been our good luck charm.”
Feature Mr Bojangles earned a hefty $210,000 paycheck for owners R.D. Hubbard and Heysol Howlet. Hubbard won the Championship at Sunland Park in 2010 with Noconi and the 2007 edition with Ketel Won. Feature Mr Bojangles, who was bred in Texas by Joyce Erickson, retires to stud with a record of 20-8-5-2 and earnings of $952,434. He is out of the First Down Dash mare Catch This Dash. The impressive stallion is now a contender for world champion aged stallion honors.
Feature Mr Who, winner of the Bank of America Sunland Park Championship Challenge (G1), ran a gallant second with jockey Esgar Ramirez. The Feature Mr Jess gelding was forwardly placed throughout and ran gamely from the rail position. The runner-up earned $77,000 for Heysol Howlet and Julieta Torres. Howlet owns part of both the first- and second-place finishers.
DM Streakn Thru Fire and Jess Cuervo finished in a dead-heat for third. Jess Featureme Quick, Hez Our Secret, Prospect To The Top, Jess Lips, Cold Cash 123 and First In Class DBS rounded out the order of finish. Prospect To The Top and Cold Cash 123 won the 2012 and 2011 Championship at Sunland Park, respectively.
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