Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Gearing up for Challenge time in the Grand Canyon State.

Wrangler Racing Aces

Gearing Up for Challenge Time in the Grand Canyon State

The Fales family in a familiar
place - the winner's circle.

Trainer Matthew Fales Shines in Arizona
By Martha Claussen

Arizona is known for its sunny skies and the magnificent Grand Canyon. In the world of Arizona Quarter Horse racing, one bright ray of sunshine is trainer Matt Fales. The 30-year-old was born into a racing family as his parents, Ralph and Carrie Fales, own and operate Fales Ranch in  Coolidge, Arizona.

Fales began training in 2005 and has won 30 career stakes at Turf Paradise, Yavapai Downs and the 2011 Rocky Mountain Derby at Arapahoe Park with Block N Tackle.

The Arizona Quarter Racing Association champion trainer honoree boasts multiple leading trainer titles at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and is a big fan of the Bank of America Challenge program. Last year, injury derailed his John Deere Juvenile hopeful, but Fales is fairly certain that this is the year he will send finalists to the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos.

"Dad and I went through my list of horses and have three paid into the Bank of America Challenge Championship; two for the Distance and 10-12 for the Juvenile," Fales reported. "I can't wait!"

One of his top older horses is Arizona-bred Jess A Cowboy, who has won five of his 12 career starts. Now 4-years-old, Jess A Cowboy won the $25,987 AQRA Futurity and the $37,573 AQRA Turf Paradise Open Derby.  He is pointed to the 440-yard Bank of America Challenge Championship trials on April 10 at Turf Paradise.

"He really is my pride and joy," admitted Fales. "We are hoping for bigger and better results for him this year."

Fales took a minute to reflect on the recent EHV-1 outbreak at Sunland Park. With 72 confirmed cases, he knows several horsemen who have lost horses to the devastating disease.

"Horsemen at Sunland have had a terrible time," said Fales. "I credit Turf Paradise for being proactive in their quarantine guidelines. Something like this will really humble you and sure puts winning and losing a race in a different perspective."

Rillito Park 

Rillito Adding Pages to Illustrious History
By Jennifer Hancock

Opened in 1943, Rillito Park in Tucson, Arizona, is considered the birthplace of modern-day American Quarter Horse racing. Rillito’s legacy includes the introduction of the photo finish and the straightaway “chute system,” a standard for Quarter Horse racing today.

Famous horses in Quarter Horse history such as Shue Fly, Piggin String and Hard Twist have all raced at the track, and the American Quarter Horse Association dedicated an AQHA Historical Marker to Rillito Park in 1996 to recognize the track’s important place in sprinting history.

On February 20, Rillito will hold its second weekend of racing for 2016. A highlight on the card is the Rillito Bonus Challenge Stakes, which is carded as the sixth races and will be a 330-yard race for AQHA Challenge enrollees with a purse of $10,000. The Bank of America Challenge Program began more than two decades ago to encourage owners to extend the careers of their horses by creating opportunities for older American Quarter Horse runners in a sport that is slanted to juveniles with huge futurity purses. As evidenced by the 10-year-old Jess Creek Manor and the field of runners aged 4 and older in the Rillito Bonus Challenge Stakes, the program is succeeding.  I analyzed Saturday's race and offer these handicapping suggestions:

The seven-horse field includes the winner of last year’s race, #7 Rigoberto Guillen’s Downtown Richard. The 8-year-old Louisiana-bred gelding has earnings of $158,412, more than double any other horse in the field, and is a perfect 4-for-4 when racing at Rillito.

On New Year’s Day, #4 Jess Like Stoli was a nose behind deadheat winners in a claiming race at Sunland Park. In 2015, the Stoli gelding won two allowance races in New Mexico and finished second and third in two others – hitting the board four times in six starts.  

#5 Cash Regard, who won a claiming race last Saturday at Rillito by more than two lengths will add blinkers for the Bonus Challenge Stakes. The 7-year-old gelding took a three and a half year hiatus from official races before returning the track last year.

The lone mare in the field, #3 Sarah Sota won her lone start of 2016, an allowance race at Turf Paradise, after being bumped at the start. She’s a consistent runner and his the board in four of her five starts last year. 

Jennifer’s picks: #7 Downtown Richard, #4 Jess Like Stoli, #5 Cash Regard, #3 Sarah Sota

In addition to the excitement of the Rillito Bonus Challenge Stakes on Saturday, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Rillito Park February 20-21. In honor of the Clydesdales, Rillito will run the Clydesdale Shootout Stakes as the eighth race on Saturday. The three-horse race will be contested between Niftys First Flash, Shes A Real Choice and A Regal Secret. To learn more about the Rillito Park 2016 meet, visit rillitoracetrack.com.


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 and Rillito Park.

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.