Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Betting to win in Indiana and Florida

Q-Racing Journal

Get handicapping tips from the Wrangler Racing Aces.

Indiana Grand's Rachel McLaughlin interviews
Randy Smith. PHOTO: Linscott Photography

Trainer Randy Smith Soaring High in Indiana
By Martha Claussen

It's safe to say that if you follow Quarter Horse racing in Indiana, you are familiar with trainer Randy Smith.  The accomplished horsemen holds an impressive and growing number of records at Indiana Grand. On January 16, Smith was lauded at the annual Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) banquet.

He was the leading Quarter Horse trainer there in 2014 with 28 victories, but shattered his own records in the 2015 meet, which wrapped up on October 31. His horses won 46 races and purses in excess of $1.1 million. His stakes wins were plentiful, but the depth of his stable was in full evidence last October when he won the $120,200 Sterlie Bertram Memorial Stakes (R) with Sheri Miller's Beach Cartel and completed the trifecta with two additional trainees, DNA Dales Quick Cat and BV Hello Darlin.

"Indiana Quarter Horse racing is getting better every year," said Smith. "The money is good and they have the stakes spaced out so that you can have a couple of opportunities."

Smith, and his wife, Debbie, who is a big part of his success, made nine trips to the podium last month at the QHRAI banquet, He was honored as 2015 Owner of the Year and had eight horses receiving high point awards in their divisions.

Smith much prefers training over talking, citing “good horses, good owners and good help” for his success. However officials at Indiana Grand are much more effusive in their praise.
“Randy Smith has turned in superior back to back performances the past two seasons,” said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. “He and his staff work very hard to get all of their horses fit and ready to race from start to finish of our Quarter Horse season. He is fairly new to the racing scene in Indiana, but he has been an asset to the Quarter Horse racing community since his arrival. He owns a lot of the horses himself, and he’s also brought in several new faces into the industry, which is the best way to promote the sport.”

Statewide recognition is a foregone conclusion, but it was nice to see Smith named as a finalist for the national 2015 Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer award. Paul Jones got the votes for the 14th time.

"Being nominated for that took me by surprise," admitted Smith. "To be on the list with that group was quite an honor."
The 2015 live racing season at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville gets underway on April 19. There are always full fields for the Quarter Horse races and solid chances in cashing tickets on the many capable runners from the Randy Smith barn.

Hialeah Park

Competitive Half-Dozen To Contest Hialeah Park’s Sawgrass Stakes
By John Hernandez

The $25,000 Sawgrass Stakes at 440 yards drew six runners, including 2015 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) winner Daytona B. The accomplished son of First Down Dash certainly deserves top billing based on his accomplishments and his 57 percent win rate (4 of 7) at 440 yards, but take note of some changes for this weekend's start for Daytona B.

The 5-year-old gelding will run for the first time under trainer Yoani Abreu, who takes over for Rolando Almanza. Also, former Hialeah Park riding champion Francisco Raul Ramirez Jr., winning at a 14 percent rate so far this season, will replace Ricky Ramirez in the saddle.

That said, Daytona B is still the one they have to beat. He shoots for his 10th lifetime victory and for a second-straight stakes win in South Florida. He was an easy winner at 10 cents on the dollar when he won the Bienvenido de Nuevo on December 26.  The only blemish on the champ’s record over his last six starts was a close runner-up finish in a Championship Challenge regional at Sam Houston last spring.

The main competition in the Sawgrass should come from Dynasty Of Habits, a 5-year-old mare who faced the tough Moonist in California and has won her only Hialeah Park start, and Eyesa Famous Eagle, a comebacker who hasn’t raced since finishing second to Daytona B in the Challenge Championship. He runs for the leading trainer/jockey tandem at Hialeah Park.

Jockey Christian Esqueda, who is enjoying a solid season in Florida, is a great fit on Habits Secret, winner of the 2013 South Florida Derby at Hialeah Park. He registered an impressive comeback win on January 18.

With only six runners facing the starter, post positions shouldn’t come into play in the Sawgrass. The Hialeah Park strip has played fairly all season long, but the middle spots are the best.

In the end, Daytona B is my top choice for the win:  5-6-2-4!

Wrangler Racing Aces 

Wrangler Racing Aces in February

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, Hialeah Park, Louisiana Downs as well as Rillito Park, which opens February 13.

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.