All American: Sign of Consistency

First Valiant Sign shows up for All American Derby.

Quarter Racing Journal

First Valiant Sign is always ready to work. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

First Valiant Sign always shows up.

The brown gelding by Valiant Hero has won three races and has never finished off the board in 10 career starts – and that’s always been against the top horses on the track. As a 2-year-old, First Valiant Sign won the Ruidoso Futurity (G1), finished second in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) and was fourth in the All American Futurity (G1), and returned at 3 to run fourth in the Rainbow Derby (G1). He has earned $795,799.

“He’s a real good, real solid, real consistent horse,” said trainer Mike Joiner. “He’s really a special kind of horse. He’s qualified for five Grade 1 races, when there’s been at least 10 or 12 trials apiece, and that’s pretty hard to do. That’s pretty hard to beat.”

First Valiant Sign is owned by the Levelland, Texas-based partnership of Scott Bryant, Joe Dee Brooks, R. Lee Lewis, and Derrol and R.D. Hubbard. The gelding is bred by Robert and Jill Mixer’s Mixer Ranch at Edmond, Oklahoma, whose program has program has produced the earners of more than $1.98 million since 2011. Those are from only 11 starters, including First Valiant Sign’s stakes-winning and Grade 1-placed half-sister A Tres Of Paint ($509,184, by Tres Seis), 2013 All American Futurity fastest qualifier Wagon Tales ($427,579) and Second Painted Sign ($101,604).

Valiant Hero has sired the earners of more than $15.6 million, including 2013 All American Derby winner and champion Feature Hero, as well as last year’s All American Derby runner up Sam Crow. The 12-year-old son of First Down Dash stands at Lazy E Ranch at Guthrie, Oklahoma. First Valiant Sign is one of three stakes winners and the earners of more than $1.4 million from four starters out of the Grade 1-winning PYC Paint Your Wagon mare First Painted Sign ($284,911).

Two-time AQHA champion jockey and Sam Thompson Memorial Award winner Cody Jensen has the mount on First Valiant Sign, who finished second by a neck to One Fabulous Eagle in the eighth trial while posting the eighth-fastest time at :21.363. 

“I didn’t ride him as a 2-year-old,” said Jensen, who won the 2009 All American Derby on Inseperable and twice has won the All American Futurity (G1). “G.R. (Carter Jr.) always rode him as a 2-year-old, so it’s been a little bit of a learning curve for me.

“He’s such a big horse,” Jensen continued. “When I rode him in the Ruidoso trials, the Rainbow trials and the All American trials, he had the luxury of getting open. There wasn’t a lot of horses around him, wasn’t a lot of pressure on him. I’ve learned that he really operates good in space. In the Rainbow final, everything was crowded, there was a lot of bumping going on and he just never felt comfortable running. He’s one of those big horses that needs a little room to work. If we draw a lucky post position and get him out somewhere where he’s a little bit free, I think the horse will really run a good race.”

Jensen paused a moment.

“There’s some awful good horses in there that ran some amazingly fast times in the trials, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” he said. “The main thing is we just need to get him to where he can do what he can do.”

In other words, First Valiant Sign needs to run his race.

“He’s grown up since last year,” Joiner agreed. “He’s pretty much the same kind of horse as he was as a 2-year-old. He had to be very grown up mentally last year, to be that consistent. He’s a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger this year, but so are the rest of them.”

Jensen has learned just how big and strong First Valiant Sign has become.

“Very, very tough to gallop,” said the jockey, rubbing his muscles. “I just got off him this morning and he is as hard a horse to gallop as they come. When you get off him, your arms are burning, your legs feel like Jell-o. He gives you the business the whole way around there. He’s a worker and he makes you work.”

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