Q-Racing Blog: Deja Vu All Over Again

Can JRC Callas First be a world champion repeat?

Q-Racing Journal

Can JRC Callas First repeat as world champion?

The goal for reigning world champion JRC Callas First is straightforward: Repeat as world champion.

“The goal this year is to be a two-time world champion,” co-owner and trainer Brian Stroud said. “That’s what we want to do.”

The other owner is Stroud’s wife Dana.

If he were to complete the task, JRC Callas First would be the first back-to-back world champion since SLM Big Daddy (1997-98). Other consecutive year world champions are Refrigerator (1992-93) and Dash For Cash (1976-77). The back-to-back-to-back world champions are Go Man Go (1955-57) and Woven Web (TB, best known as Miss Princess), took top honors in 1946-48. Shue Fly won the top award in 1941-44.

Obviously, JRC Callas First would be joining some very elite company if he can take the 2015 world champion title.

A year ago, JRC Callas First was in the midst of a seven-race winning streak. He won eight of 10 2014 starts, including six stakes races, and the Strouds ended up holding the world champion, champion aged horse and champion aged gelding trophies in January.

“I think he’s the same horse as last year,” Brian Stroud said. “He had a few knee chips taken out and then we swam him. I think he needed a few races.”

This year, the Winners Award-sired gelding started with a second in the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) and fourth in the $252,720 Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1).

Then he found his form. He has won three-straight stakes races and raced to his most important victory in his latest start. He fought for 440 yards to take the initial running of the $200,000 The Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship by a head. The stakes is not graded because it is the first running, yet had a very deep field. Put up $200,000 and the horses will show up.

The plan is for JRC Callas First to take a similar path to the end of the year as a he did last year. He will skip a couple a races he won last year: the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap (G1) and the $25,000 B.F. Phillips Handicap (RG3). The Refrigerator is just one week after The Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship.

JRC Callas First will point at the $150,000 Zia Park Championship (G1) and the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park (G1). He won the 2014 Zia Park Championship and then his winning streak ended when he was fourth as the favorite in The Championship at Sunland Park.

The Zia Park Championship is run on November 26, so Stroud has plenty of time.

“He’s tired. He was challenged every step,” Stroud said two days after the Albuquerque victory. “Then he had a nine-and-one-half hour trip on Monday (the day after the race).

“The vet checked him out and x-rayed him and he’s fine. He’s eating well.”

JRC Callas First has been a challenge for Stroud throughout his career.

“He was a crazy horse,” Stroud said. In his first start, the past performance note was “Unruly post parade.”

The gelding won his maiden in his second start and finished third for a $10,000 tag in his third start. At the end of his 2013 campaign, his owner wanted to sell him and Stroud shopped him around with no takers. Stroud liked him, so after some old-fashioned horse trading, the Strouds got him for $7,500 and Stroud “ripped up $1,300 in training bills.”

JRC Callas First then had a career-changing experience.

“We just turned him out,” Stroud said. “He needed a vacation from people and allowed to be a horse. We wormed him and treated him for ulcers.”

He came back as a stakes horse and ended up as a world champion.

He’s been a handful (that’s probably an understatement) but it has paid off with his championships and $389,931 in earnings.

“He’s not that easy to handle. He has his quirks and needs a familiar crew,” Stroud said. “My crew deserves a lot of credit. There is no way he would have won as many races without them.”


*A note from Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen:

 The Haddad family with Martha Claussen.

Breeder Jorge Haddad and his Louisiana Cartel: Jorge Haddad of Seguin, Texas, has owned a number of successful stallions, but arguably his biggest triumph to date is The Louisiana Cartel.
The horse’s first crop began winning races earlier this year at Sam Houston Race Park and in July, Cartels Pop Pop captured the $413,776 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2).  That was the first stakes winner for The Louisiana Cartel, who was also the sire of fastest qualifier Sissy Cartel, the second-place finisher in the richest race of the Retama Park Quarter Horse meet.

The Louisiana Cartel never raced as a 2-year-old. He was training for the All American Futurity but slab fractured his knee. Dr. Tommy Hays of Elgin, Texas, performed a successful repair and the striking son of Corona Cartel out of the Louisiana Slew (TB) mare The Louisiana Girl made ten career starts as a 3 and 4 year old. He won the 2011 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship and the Sam Houston Classic and was a finalist that year in the prestigious Remington Park Invitational.

"I was a little surprised at first at the way his babies were winning," said Haddad. "You never really know what to expect, but we could not be more pleased with his success! To run first and second in the TQHA Sale Futurity was amazing, but now you see 2-year-old races where three of his babies make up the trifecta!"

The Louisiana Cartel's book was full for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and Haddad looks forward to another successful breeding season in 2016.

"We have interest from just about everywhere," reports Haddad. "He had a good reputation in Texas and Louisiana, but now we are getting calls from North and South Carolina, Indiana and New Mexico."
The progeny of The Louisiana Cartel will be in full force on October 10 at Lone Star Park for the final of the $498,350 Dash for Cash Futurity (G1). Three of the ten finalists, JS Abel Dasher, Teves and Sissy Cartel, are by the successful freshman sire.

Remaining in Texas is important to Haddad and his wife, Kitty, who are proud parents of three children. Their oldest son, Jorge, Jr., 21, is already a tremendously talented horseman.
"He really loves everything about racing," admits his proud father. "He has always been a great student in school, but his true interest is in pedigree."

 Damian Martinez.
PHOTO: Coady Photography

Super Birthday Present for Damian Martinez: Rider Damian Martinez had multiple reasons to celebrate last Sunday. For one, he rode reigning world champion JRC Callas First to victory in the 440-yard, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Fall Championship. For another, Sunday also marked the 22nd birthday for the up-and-coming jockey.

Martinez, who was born in Coahuila, Mexico, began riding professionally in 2012. Piloting a world champion is a dream come true and gave the young rider a tremendous amount of confidence. He won the title at both Sam Houston Race Park and Gillespie County Fair this year and is currently riding at Lone Star Park for their 2015 Fall Meet of Champions.

He shares his birthday with his wife, Bianca, who turned 20 on Sunday. Their celebration had to wait until Monday as Bianca stayed home in San Antonio, Texas, with the couple's one-year old daughter, Daila.

"There are no words to describe what JRC Callas First means to me," said Martinez. "That was his best race this year; he was better in the gates and broke really well. It was a great feeling to win such a big race on my birthday!"

Meet Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen this weekend!

Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen Live at Lone Star: Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen will be onsite Saturday, October 3, at Lone Star Park for the Merial Distaff Challenge, Zoetis Distance Challenge and Refrigerator Handicap. She will join Lone Star Park handicapper Rick Lee in his pre-race televised preview show, and will greet fans throughout the evening with educational materials, courtesy of AQHA.

For the fifth time, the Grand Prairie racetrack hosts the 2015 Bank of America Challenge Championships on November 6-7.

Check out the feature on Lone Star Park, written by Claussen, in the October issue of HorsePlayerNow Magazine. The issue also includes an informative look at the upcoming Breeders' Cup; the Lone Star preview begins on page 62.

Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter to learn more about the upcoming Bank of America Challenge.

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