Q-Racing Blog: Looking Forward

This could be a memorable year.

Q-Racing Journal

We have a lot to look forward to this year.

Sit up and take a deep breath, hold it for four seconds and slowly exhale. Repeat twice. Breathe.

It’s only the start of February and a lot has happened: the quarantines due to EHV-1, political excess and financial market volatility. Whew. That’s a lot to process.

Let’s look forward and stay positive. This year could prove to be historically exciting on the track.

It all starts on February 14 with a sweetheart of a race, the $139,700 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1).

It will be the second Grade 1 matchup between world champion Heza Dasha Fire and champion aged horse Moonist. Heza Dasha Fire took their first meeting in the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) last December with a 1 1/4 romp to wrap up his world championship.

Moonist came back when they met in the first of two trials to the Winter Championship. He was able to win the trial by one-half length. They had the top-two qualifying times with Moonist racing the 400 yards in :19.506, while Heza Dasha Fire posted a :19.574 mark.

Moonist defeats Heza Dasha Fire in the
Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials.
PHOTO: Scott Martinez 

These two horses, hopefully, will have a throw-back battle in a deep group of older sprinters throughout the year at Los Alamitos. These are the type of older-horse matchups that have provided a cornerstone in the history of the storied track. A big part of these matches have been the other horses in the race. There is always a horse that can step up and add even more excitement to the Grade 1 races that are always important when it comes to championship consideration.

These races are important in attracting fans, who often choose a favorite horse and then follow that horse. Heza Dasha Fire and Moonist are each geldings that we can appreciate for years.

The 3-year-olds expected at Ruidoso Downs for the three Grade 1 derbies will hopefully supply memorable action. The purses guarantee top-tier fields. The All American Derby is expected to have a $2.5 million purse, the Rainbow Derby is anticipated to carry a $1.2 million purse and the Ruidoso Derby is estimated to distribute a $1 million purse. Money talks and these derby purses shout.

Anticipation for the return of champion 2-year-old Jess Good Candy will be very high because he wrapped up his juvenile season with an All American Futurity (G1) win that looked like he is a horse that still carries a huge upside.

Jess Good Candy capped a 4-for-4 campaign with his neck win in the All American Futurity. He also won a maiden race at Remington Park and his trials to the Ruidoso Futurity and the All American Futurity.

One Fabulous Eagle, who was second in the All American Futurity, should be dangerous. He showed a strong late run in the All American Futurity and like Jess Good Candy has been freshened since the All American Futurity.

Tres Friends winning the Rainbow Futurity (G1).
PHOTO: Q-Racing Journal/Richard Chamberlain

All Tres Friends does is win Grade 1 stakes. The gelding overcame a bumpy start to win the Rainbow Futurity by neck at nearly 10-1 odds. He then passed the All American Futurity and was able to return for the Texas Classic Futurity in gate-to-wire fashion. The Texas Classic on November 14 was his most recent effort and he should be in top form next summer.

Of course, the Ruidoso Downs’ barn area is always packed with top 3-year-olds racing for these large purses and there is a host of sophomores that promise to add to the derby action.

And don't forget that, in addition to champions Heza Dasha Fire, Moonist and Jess Good Candy, other champions including Walk Thru Crystal, Ima Fearless Hero, Open Me A Corona, Quirky, Executive Trust and Panther Hero are expected back at the races.

At all tracks there will be racing that cements our attraction to American Quarter Horse racing. Breathe, smile and look forward to the races.

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.