Rock A Billy Pulls Upset in AQHA Albuquerque Distance Challenge

The homebred gelding earns his first stakes win and remains undefeated at the 870-yard distance.

Press release

Rock A Billy outran his 8-1 odds to win Sunday's 870-yard AQHA Albuquerque Distance Challenge. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Rock A Billy, an 8-1 longshot in the seven-horse field, earned his first stakes win in Sunday’s $56,520 AQHA Albuquerque Distance Challenge Stakes (G3) at Albuquerque Downs.

Ridden by Luis Rodriguez for owner Rockin J Running Horses of Gatesville, Texas, and trainer Tammy Kay Johnson, Rock A Billy went 870 yards in :44.475, and his winning margin was 1 1/4 lengths from runner-up Fire Thorn. Jess A Hilbily Bone, a stablemate of and full brother to Rock A Billy, finished third as the 6-5 favorite.

Rock A Billy has won five of 21 starts, including all three of his races at the 870-yard distance. The homebred 4-year-old son of the Mr Jess Perry stallion Rock Solid Jess was coming off of a two-length win in an 870-yard, $14,000 allowance race at Ruidoso Downs on June 25.

“Horses by Rock Solid Jess really seem to like the 870 distance, and we’ve had good luck with 870 horses,” said Johnson, who also trains CJs Rocksolid, a homebred son of Rock Solid Jess who won the May 14 AQHA Remington Distance Challenge (G3) at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. “This was a tough field, but this horse outran some really tough horses in that Ruidoso allowance race, and he did it fairly easily, so we thought we really had something here.”

In addition to earning the $27,695 winner’s share of the Albuquerque Distance Challenge purse, Rock A Billy landed a berth in the October 14, $105,000 AQHA Distance Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows near Des Moines, Iowa.

Johnson said that Rock Solid Jess would make at least one more start, either in the regional AQHA Distance Challenge stakes at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, Texas, or Will Rogers Downs at Claremore, Oklahoma, this fall.

Daring And Dashing finished fourth, 5 3/4 lengths behind Rock A Billy, and was followed by Kingsbury, April Dawn, and Classic James.

NOTES FROM THE DOWNS: American Quarter Horse Association chief racing officer Janet Van Bebber and New Mexico Horse Breeders’ Association executive director Anna Fay Davis were in the winner’s circle to present the winning trophy to the connections of Rock A Billy....Live racing resumes at Albuquerque Downs with a nine-race all-Thoroughbred program on Wednesday, beginning at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday night is also the track’s third and final $1 hot dog night. Dollar hot dogs will be available, while supplies last, at the first- and second-floor refreshment stands in the grandstand, as well as the First Turn Lounge and food court at the Downs’ casino.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit