All American: Decision Time

Esgar Ramirez has the best possible problem to resolve.

Quarter Racing Journal

Esgar Ramirez has lots of decisions to make. PHOTO: Gay Harris

Esgar Ramirez has a problem. Or a couple of problems. Make that a half-dozen problems. Not that the jockey minds.

A perennial leading rider who industry-wide ranked sixth in earnings last year and is seventh all-time, the 33-year-old Ramirez rode Mr Piloto to win the 2010 All American Futurity (G1) and Arealstraitheart to win the 2006 All American Derby (G1).

In this year’s All American trials at Ruidoso Downs on August 19-21, Ramirez qualified three 2-year-olds to the Futurity and three 3-year-olds to the Derby.

“Oh, what a great weekend, the best!” said Kathy Murphy, who represents Ramirez as agent. “Yeah, it was awesome! You can’t ask for anything better.”

The 2-year-olds Ramirez qualified to the All American Futurity are Imperial Eagle, Koolnfamous and Volcoms Lady (and, by the way, he narrowly missed with Twig, who qualified to the All American Juvenile Invitational). His 3-year-olds in the All American Derby are EC Jet One, Jess Envision and Celtic Emblem.

Which brings us to Ramirez’s problems. Now he has to choose which to ride in both races.

“We still haven’t decided,” Ramirez said on the Monday following the trials. “We haven’t looked at everything. My agent, the trainers, everybody, we have a lot of think about.”

Ramirez discusses his qualifiers:

Imperial Eagle
He’s a very nice horse. Imperial Eagle will always try hard, he’ll always give you his best. He won’t hurt himself. He’s a horse that won’t be intimidated. No horse will try harder than him. He’ll give you as much as he has. If he gets beat, he gets beat because it’s not his day or he gets outrun or something like that, but they’ll have to try real hard to beat him. He stands perfect in the gate, never makes a mistake in there. He won’t beat himself.
Imperial Eagle’s a really happy horse. When I gallop him in the morning, he jumps, he kicks, but he’s just playing. He’s not a horse that gives you a hard time. He’s a really nice horse.

Koolnfamous, the longer they go, the better he is. He has the size and substance to run hard for 440. He was a little bit intimidated in the gate (in the trials). He could beat himself; in trials, he was trying too hard to stand perfectly, he was moving a little bit, motivating and trying to leave the gate as nice and fast as he could.
He’s a really nice horse (to gallop in the morning). He’s happy, he’s good and everything.

Volcoms Lady
Volcoms Lady kind of surprised me. She’s a really honest filly that tries her best to run her best. I think she’s the one that’s going to give me the hardest time trying to decide which horse to ride. She really impressed me over the trials more than the others.

The first time I rode her, she was moving a lot in the gate, so we made a little equipment change. She had been moving around in the gate – she wasn’t relaxing in there, she wasn’t standing that good. But the day of the trials, she gave it up; we talked to her, and she made it clear she was going to run – and, man, she ran. What I found about her is that I can’t whip her as much as the others. Volcoms Lady is still learning how to run, to be honest, and that makes my decision even harder.

In the morning, Volcoms Lady goes with a pony most of the time.

EC Jet One
‘Jet One’ is a really, really nice horse – got a big heart and can really, really run. He goes in and stays and waits for that gate to open, and he leaves the gate really hard. He’s professional. You don’t need to push the horse – you just stay on him and he’ll do his job.

He’s real happy in the morning. He’ll jog, he’ll gallop, he loves the training. He doesn’t like to let horses go by – he wants to go. He’s a really honest horse, and he really loves to train.

Jess Envision
Jess Envision ran second in the trials. She had a hard time with the track – she was trying too hard. The more I tried to pick her up, the more she tried, but she was trying so hard on the track and the track wasn’t helping her that much.

That was the first time I was on her. Nicasio rides her, but he had another to ride, so Juan Aleman called me and asked if I could help him out.

Celtic Emblem
That horse is another that will run as hard as she can. Celtic Emblem ran her guts out. In the gate, she never moved. She was a little bit nervous, but we put her in a rig and she never moved. She was waiting for that gate to open, and she was gone and she was running as hard as she could. That was the first time I was on her, too.

No matter what, Esgar had a huge weekend in the trials that he hopes to repeat on Labor Day weekend.

“I’m looking for that big weekend coming up,” Ramirez said. “I’m hoping my dream comes back true. I want to thank everyone – my agent, my family, the trainers, the owners, everybody, for having faith in me, putting their trust in me and letting me ride their horses.

“Now I’ve just got to decide who to ride.”

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