Jessies First Down is Prompt Favorite in Bank of America Texas Challenge

The reigning world champion gets it done in track-record time at Sam Houston.

Q-Racing Journal

Reigning world champion Jessies First Down broke Sam Houston Race Park's 440-yard track record in Saturday's Bank of America Texas Challenge. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Ted G. Abrams' Jessies First Down, the sport's reigning world champion, extended his win streak to five with a neck victory in Saturday's 440-yard, $103,320 Bank of America Texas Challenge (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park.

 
The connections of Jessies First Down,
including owner/breeder Ted G. Abrams
of Houston (third from right), celebrate
the gelding's track-record victory.
PHOTO: Coady Photography

Ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo for trainer Judd Kearl and aided by a 16-mph tail wind, Jessies First Down made his quarter-mile trip in :21.214 and posted a 109 speed index while breaking by 61/1000ths of a second the previous track record set by Daytona B on April 18, 2015. The win was his 12th in 29 starts, and 11th in 22 outs at the distance, and the $47,527 winner's share of the purse increased his bankroll to $632,034, of which $430,042 was earned from 11 races during his world championship campaign.

Jessies First Down made his 6-year-old season debut with a 1 3/4-length victory as the 3-10 favorite in the first of two Texas Challenge trials on March 31. Covering the 440 yards in :21.639, the homebred Fdd Dynasty gelding recorded the third-fastest qualifying time.

Jessies First Down's resume includes second-place finishes in the last two runnings of this race.

"I told Ted that by not going into the final as the fastest qualifier, maybe we could turn the tables," said Kearl, last year's champion trainer. "Words can't describe what this horse means to all of us. He's done everything we've asked of him, and tonight he breaks a track record. He's everybody's dream."

Abrams was joined in the Sam Houston winner's circle by his wife, Nancy, and daughter Heather.

"When they announced that he was world champion, it was a special moment," said Abrams, referring to the AQHA champions ceremony in Oklahoma City on January 21. "Not many horses have been able to accomplish that.

"Credit goes to Judd, assistant Jimmy Padgett, and Rodrigo, who all did an amazing job," he added. "His groom, Javier Gonzalez, goes everywhere he goes."

Jessies First Down has won seven stakes, and his current win streak includes three Grade 1 wins, all at the 440 distance. In addition to earning the winner's share of the purse from this race, the gelding landed a berth in the 440-yard, $330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.

Tlc Dale finished second and was followed by fastest qualifier Dutcher, My Moment Of Fame, Red Corona Warrior, Kw Cowboy, This Is A Deal, On The Wagon, Silvers Moon Flash, and Bullys Bad Assets.

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