Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

From Septuagenarian Ken Grisham to 2-year-olds.

Q-Racing Journal

Spanning the decades from Septuagenarian Ken Grisham to 2-year-olds in Sam Houston Race Park's richest race.


RG Miracle's connections, including trainer Ken Grisham, in
the winner's circle in 2015. PHOTO: Coady Photography 

Trainer Ken Grisham Gears Up for SunRay Park Live Racing Season
By Jennifer Hancock

SunRay Park opens its 36-day spring meet April 22, and Wrangler Racing Ace Jennifer Hancock will present a free handicapping seminar on Saturday, April 23 to kick off the meet. The Farmington, New Mexico, track will host eight Quarter Horse stakes worth an estimated $410,000 in purse money. The track brings back its Freaky Fast Fridays in 2016, which is an all-Quarter-Horse card on Fridays. 

The 2015 leading trainer, Ken Grisham, will saddle New Mexico Breeders’ Futurity winner RG Miracle in the opening day Animas Stakes, which will be run at 400 yards for a $30,000 purse. Before heavy rains forced SunRay Park to cancel its final two days of the 2015 meet, Grisham saddled 10 winners including stakes winner RG Miracle and Good Job Honey, the Four Corners Futurity winner.

Grisham ranked in the top-50 last year in national trainer standings with earnings of $505,983. He saddled 70 starters, 20 of which landed in the winner’s circle, and his runners won at a 29 percent clip.

RG Miracle is the 5-2 morning line favorite, but will be hitting the track for the first time in 2016. During his juvenile season, the Hearts Miracle gelding started nine races and hit the board in eight of those starts. He won four races and finished second in four races with his only miss coming in a December trial race at Sunland Park. He earned $180,606 as a 2-year-old.

“We ran in the trials, and it was in the snow after they put the races off for a day or two and I think he had a little bit of a cold,” Grisham said of the gelding, who is owned by the trainer’s wife, Shirley. “That’s the only bad race that he’s ever run his whole life. He’s doing great. I think we’re sitting right for the race on Friday.”

Grisham’s other star sophomore, Good Job Honey, qualified for the May 1 West Texas Derby (G3) at Sunland Park and will compete in the trials of the Ruidoso Derby before moving to Farmington. Shirley co-owns the filly with Johnny T.L. Jones’ J Bar 7 Ranch. Grisham shares a hometown with Jones, and the Quanah, Texas, natives are partners on a couple of horses.

“We’ve got our horses split right now,” Grisham said of his stable being divided between Sunland and SunRay.

The Grishams have another group of talented freshmen including a full-brother to RG Miracle named KG Miracle.

“He’s a great big gangly kind of a colt,” Grisham said. “He’s kind of like RG was. It took him to his fourth race to break his maiden. He wasn’t getting out of the gate real sharp. He didn’t qualify at Sunland so he’s in the futurity trials at Farmington on April 29.  We’ve got some real nice 2-year-olds that will be at Farmington later on. We had some real nice 2-year-olds last year, too. We ran first and second in just about all the New Mexico futurities last year – RG Miracle won two of them.”

Grisham has been around fast horses for more than six decades.

“I’ve been in it all my life practically,” the 77-year-old said. “When I was a real young kid, I hooked up with an old fella that lived down the road from me. He had a bunch of old crippled Thoroughbreds. I started helping him when I was a teenager. I moved to Lubbock, started Texas Tech and we had a little brush track out there.”

Ponying at the track with a palomino mare that showed some speed, Ken’s college buddies encouraged him to run the mare in some match races. 

“I got hooked with her,” Grisham said of his mare. “We started running official in Lubbock in 1966. I’ve always been an electrician or a horse trainer. I was the leading non-pari-mutuel trainer money wise in 1972. I’ve been training ever since.”

SunRay Park’s meet runs through June 20 with a Friday-Monday schedule.. For more information, including a complete stakes schedule, visit the track’s website at www.sunraygaming.com.

 Je And Thee. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Handicapping the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity
By Martha Claussen

This week was a tough one for Houston with massive flooding affecting many areas of the city. Fortunately, Sam Houston Race Park was spared for the most part from the ravages of the storm.  Even better news is that good weather is expected for Saturday's three stakes, highlighted by the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). Some tremendously accomplished champions began their careers with wins in this race. There was Azoom in 1994; Especially Tres was the winner in 2013, running fourth in the All American Futurity (G1) and 2014 champion Kiss My Hocks, honored as champion 2-year-old.

Seventeen trials held three weeks ago determined the competitive field of ten competing at 330 yards. The buzz is that this might be the most wide-open final in recent years. Fastest qualifier Je And Thee was a "surprise" to his connections; a win would be the first graded stakes for both owner Ramon Cano and trainer Joel Cantu. However, his sire, The Louisiana Cartel, has been producing excellent progeny for the past two years. He will break from post position two under Jose Alvarez.  Breaking next to Je And Thee is Midnight Heat, a son of Corona Cartel who secured the second-fastest qualifying time. Julianna Hawn Holt bred this colt who sold for $100,000 at the Ruidoso Select Sale. Jockey Luis Vivanco has the mount; he rode Kiss My Hocks to victory here in 2014.

Leading Sam Houston trainer Judd Kearl won the 2011 Sam Houston Futurity with Jess Tee Off. His finalist this year is Shakemwhileyoucan, a Red Oak special filly who secured the seventh-fastest qualifying time. She was unruly in the paddock, but settled to a maiden-breaking score in :16.818.  Her pilot will be current Houston leading jockey, Rodrigo Vallejo, who has won the prestigious championship a record four times.

Trainer Brian Stroud will send Desdemona Rambler to the final. The Tempting Dash colt won his first career race in :16.757, recording the third fastest time. A $80,000 re-purchase from the 2015 TQHA Yearling Sale, he is primed for a big effort, according to Stroud.

Each of the three horses on the far outside posts #8 El Carretonero G 3;  #9 Graceful Eagle  and #10 Just Call Me Carter merit respect. 

Saturday night's card begins at 6:00 p.m. (CT) and includes the $50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile as well as the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3) with 2015 Sam Houston Futurity champion Ivan James leading the field. Good luck to all!

Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen's Top Four Selections:
#3  Midnight Heat
#6  Shakemwhileyoucan
#2  Je and Thee
# 5 Desdemona Rambler


Wrangler Racing Aces in April
Jennifer Hancock makes her way to SunRay Park this weekend and Jonathan Horowitz will journey to Sunland Park the weekend of April 30. Both Wrangler Racing Aces will offer free handicapping materials, tip sheets and fan education for racing fans of all levels.

Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter for timely updates on Quarter Horse racing across North America. The Wrangler Racing Aces are following the horses, jockeys, trainers and milestones at Los Alamitos, Remington Park, Sam Houston Race Park, Sunland Park and upcoming live meets at Indiana Grand and Delta Downs.

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.