Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
A proven commodity and rising star at Sunland Park.
By Martha Claussen and Jonathan Horowitz | April 26, 2016
Quarter Racing Journal
|Esgar Ramirez. PHOTO: Coady Photograhy|
Jockey Esgar Ramirez Delivers the Wins, but Deserves More Credit
By Martha Claussen
Jockey Esgar Ramirez was the sixth-leading AQHA rider in 2015. With numerous riding titles at Sunland Park, fans of New Mexico racing are well aware of his talent. It's time for the rest of the country to know more about this gifted athlete.
Ramirez, 32, made his riding debut in 2002 and just four years later eclipsed the $2 million mark in purses for the first time. One of his biggest scores was the victory aboard Mr Piloto in the 2010 All American Futurity (G1). The Mr Jess Perry colt broke from the far outside post, springing the upset at 22-1 over a field which included JLS Mr Bigtime, Dominyun and Prospect To The Top.
"He was wide, but moving very well," recalled Ramirez. "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the seven (Dominyun), but I never got anxious."
It is the dream of every Quarter Horse rider to win the All American Futurity, and to this day, Ramirez is still moved by the memories of that Labor Day afternoon.
"I could not believe I had won it," he stated. "There are no words to express what I felt and what winning the All American meant to me."
The married father of three was born in El Paso and now resides in Anthony, New Mexico. Ramirez has had his share of spills and broken bones. His worst accident happened at Zia Park in 2014 when a horse fell on him and broke his pelvis. Surprisingly, following two months of bed rest, Ramirez was back in the saddle.
He is closing in on 100 stakes wins with scores in each of the New Mexico tracks, Los Alamitos, Sam Houston Race Park and Prairie Meadows. Last November, he guided Daytona B to victory in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Lone Star Park.
When asked if there was a horse that had a great impact on his career, Ramirez did not hesitate in naming Arealstraitheart, winner of the 2005 Zia Futurity (RG1) and 2006 All American Derby (G1) and runner up in the All American Futurity.
"He made me where I am now," said Ramirez of the M J Enterprises homebred.
His stakes tally could expand this weekend at Sunland Park as he has quality mounts in both the West Texas Futurity (G2) on Saturday and the West Texas Derby (G3) Sunday afternoon. Ramirez will pilot Groupie James in the futurity for H & E Ranch, Inc and Jose Luis Hernandez's Boxwineizfine in the Derby.
"It will be a good weekend, but I always take it one race at a time," he explained. "I don't put pressure on myself. If I am nervous, my horse will sense it."
His hard work and calm demeanor are equal components to his success. With over 8,770 mounts and $30 million in purses earned, Esgar Ramirez has no reason to feel pressure. But in this writer's opinion, he is certainly deserving of greater recognition for his superb riding prowess.
|Eyema Blue Wagon. PHOTO: Coady Photography|
Finding a Futurity Star in New Mexico
By Jonathan Horowitz
Of the 75 2-year-olds entered in the eight trials to the West Texas Futurity on April 15 at Sunland Park, only 11 had made previous starts. However three of them – including the only previous winner, Stella Lou – were entered in the third trial. This trial appearing to be the best quality on paper ultimately produced the fastest qualifier in Eyema Blue Wagon in :15.165 for 300 yards. The 2-year-old brown colt will take that strong performance and good breeding into Saturday’s $217,850 Grade 2 final.
Eyema Blue Wagon is sired by PYC Paint Your Wagon and out of the dam Eyema Blues Girl, whose half-sister Blues Girl Too was world champion in 2007. Ridden by jockey Sergio Becerra Jr., who also was aboard the fastest qualifier to Sunday’s West Texas Derby, Boxwineizfine, Eyema Blue Wagon topped Stella Lou by one length in the trials as a 2-1 favorite. Becerra will again be aboard the Albert Franco-trainee owned by Regal Racing Stables.
Stella Lou also made the finals as the fourth-fastest qualifier with the same jockey-trainer combination that won the West Texas Futurity in 2015 with Nucky – jockey Salvador Martinez and trainer Justin Joiner. Martinez and Joiner then combined to qualify Lord Fa with a three-quarter length victory in the fourth trial. Omar Reyes will take over riding duties in the finals. Lord Fa is the only New Mexico-bred in the field of 10.
Gamey Tee Cos, the first foal out of the dam Gamey Girl, won his trial by the biggest margin of victory, 1 1/4 lengths, in the second-fastest qualifying time of :15.225. The bay colt owned by Jessica Meza, trained by Juventino Ruiz, and ridden by Manuel Gutierrez has been installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite with Eyema Blue Wagon right behind at 4-1.
While Gamey Tee Cos and Eyema Blue Wagon both cruised in their trials, Willie Be Fired had to gut out a neck victory in one of the closest trials to be the third-fastest qualifier in :15.294. Willie Be Fired is trained by Juan Gonzalez, whose Running Dragon captured the $297,925 New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) at Sunland Park on April 24.
My West Texas Futurity pick is Eyema Blue Wagon because he seems to have many factors working in his favor. He’s the fastest qualifier from a quality trial. His jockey, Becerra Jr., is riding very well at the moment with a win percentage higher than 25 percent. I also like the experience of Stella Lou, the strong trial victory by Gamey Tee Cos, and the tenacity of Willie Be Fired in his trial win. 5-1-4-2
Wrangler Racing Aces in April
Jonathan Horowitz will journey to Sunland Park this weekend to share his insights on the stakes action with Sunland Park's Molly Jo Rosen. He will be onsite Saturday and Sunday with free handicapping materials, tip sheets and fan educational materials 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, Indiana Grand and Delta Downs.