Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Two Texas choices this weekend.

Quarter Racing Journal

Two Texas choices this weekend.

Come enjoy the Gillespie Co. Fair. 

Come to the Fair!
By Denis Blake

One of the many great things about the sport of horse racing is the wide variety of racetracks around North America, from grand cathedrals of Thoroughbred racing like Keeneland and Saratoga to historic American Quarter Horse venues like Ruidoso Downs and Los Alamitos. Many of today’s tracks feature posh clubhouses and cutting edge technology with giant HD video boards. The Gillespie County Fairgrounds features nothing of the sort, yet it’s still a tremendous place to visit.

Part of what makes Gillespie special is the fact that nothing there is new. Racing has been held just outside the small Central Texas town of Fredericksburg since 1881, making Gillespie one of the oldest tracks in the United States. There is no clubhouse at Gillespie, and indeed there is no air conditioning as the rather ordinary grandstand is entirely outdoors. Despite that, and its somewhat remote location, Gillespie consistently draws large crowds for live racing. But why?

That depends who you ask. Some come for the great food from a variety of local vendors, some come for the cold (and reasonably priced) beverages in the Bier Garten and others come for the family-friendly atmosphere and carnival rides during the county fair. There’s also some pretty good racing at Gillespie, including a six-figure futurity on closing day. Most of all, Gillespie is just fun. People cheer for the horses like they have $1,000 riding on the race, even when most have a $2 show bet, and they applaud ever winner when he gallops back. It’s an atmosphere you just will not find at a modern racetrack, but it’s one that every racing fan is sure to enjoy.

While there are not as many fair tracks as there once was, there are still plenty of places around the country where you can find an atmosphere like at Gillespie. So make the trip to Fredericksburg this month if you can (they race this weekend and the weekend of August 27-28), or check out a fair track closer to your home. You can find a full list of Quarter Horse tracks at https://aqha.com/racing/pages/horseman-info/track-and-race-information/



Retama Park Closes out Meet with Two Challenge Finals
By Martha Claussen

Retama Park wraps its 2016 Quarter Horse racing on Saturday night with a ten-race card highlighted by two Bank of America Challenge finals.

In the $75,870 John Deere Retama Juvenile Challenge, Dan Grube’s Desdemona Rambler, will be tough to beat if he comes close to replicating his impressive trial performance. The Tempting Dash colt was the only runner in the 350-yard trials to break the 18-second mark, drawing off by almost two lengths in a final time of :17.866. Trained by Brian Stroud, Desdemona Rambler is the high earner in the field with $64,000 in his four efforts, including a third-place finish in the  $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 23.  He stumbled in his trial for the TQHA Sale Futurity on July 15, but rebounded nicely two weeks later under jockey Juan F. Garcia Jr.

Mario Lozano Cantu's Shez Freaky set the second-fastest qualifying time and the filly trained by Rolando Almanza is a very capable entrant. She has won three of her five starts, with a fourth-place finish in the $268,000 Harrah's Futurity at Louisiana Downs. Esgar Ramirez will guide the Tr Dasher filly from the eight hole. Outside posts at Retama Park have yielded some big wins, including Miss Alluring Menace $443,050 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2) at odds of 21-1.

Strawflyin Tac, owned by Joye Leann Nalls and James R. Hrabovsky, has improved in each of his last three starts, winning his trial in :18.153. Also trained by Stroud, the son of Tac It Like a Man could easily outrun his odds of 12-1 on Saturday night.

One Sweet Merlot, owned by David Jones and Mark C. Cowan will be making his third career start for trainer Judd Kearl. He broke his maiden in trials for the John Deere under Noe Villatoro, who has the return  call from the far outside post.

It could be a big weekend for Stroud, who is the current leading Retama Park trainer and also conditions the fastest qualifier to the $43,200 Adequan Retama Derby Challenge. J. Leann Nalls and James R. Hrabovsky's, Tellereyematthebar is the 5-2 choice in the 400-yard final, which will run as the seventh race of the card. The homebred son of Teller Cartel drew post position two with  Juan F. Garcia Jr. in the irons.

Winners of both the Adequan Derby and John Deere Juvenile Challenge will earn berths to the 2016 Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos on Saturday, October 29.

Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen's Top Four John Deere Juvenile Selections:

#4   Desdemona Rambler
#8   Shez Freaky
#6   Strawflyin Tac
#10 One Sweet Merlot


Wrangler Racing Aces in August
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, Canterbury Park, Ruidoso Downs, Indiana Grand and the upcoming live Quarter Horse season at Fair Grounds.

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.