Q-Racing Blog: Three Days
We're going to see more than 30 stakes in 72 hours.
By Ty Wyant | July 20, 2016
The final weekend in July is gaining a place in American Quarter Horse racing lore because it’s the busiest weekend of the year on the stakes calendar.
There are 30 stakes events in California, New Mexico, Mexico, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Minnesota. There are probably even more.
The reason for is that Saturday night at Los Alamitos is California Champions Night. There are 11 stakes races for Cal-breds, plus four more non-stakes for Cal-bred claimers.
It’s also state-bred weekend at Ruidoso Downs with the Zia Festival. On Saturday is the By By JJ for New Mexico-breds and John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge for 2-year-olds that advanced from the trials. Then on Sunday is the Zia Futurity, Zia Derby, Zia Handicap and the Zia 870 Championship.
Here’s a peek at a few of the stakes at Los Alamitos and Ruidoso during the weekend of July 30-31.
Governors’ Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos
Trainer John Cooper holds a strong position in the $395,000 Governors’ Cup Futurity (RG2) with three of the five-fastest qualifiers.
|Fastest qualifier AJs Anna Smoke will make his next
start in the July 30 Governor's Cup Futurity at Los
Alamitos. PHOTO: Scott Martinez
Rod MacPherson Jr.’s AJs Anna Smoke led the qualifiers from the eight trials, as the Separatist gelding raced the 350 yards in :17.727 to dominate by 1 1/4 lengths. He has won four of five starts and finished off the board in the Ed Burke Memorial Futurity (G1).
The other two qualifiers from Cooper's barn — Myfavoritestreaker and American Force — are owned by Ron Hartley. This is the same trainer-owner combination that campaigned the late champion Moonist.
Myfavoritestreaker has won his latest two starts after a third-place finish in his debut. He won his trial by one length with the fourth-fastest time of :17.765.
American Force won his maiden in his third start in his trial. The First Down Dash gelding overcame a troubled start to score by one-half length in :17.841.
Governors’ Cup Derby at Los Alamitos
The Parsons Family Limited Partnership’s homebred Thermonuclear Energy might be just the sixth-fastest qualifier, but the Walk Thru Fire filly might be the horse to beat. She made her first start in seven months in her trial and blew away her rivals by 1 1/4 lengths in :20.099 for the 400 yards.
As a 2-year-old, the Chris O’Dell-trained Thermonuclear Energy was a close third in the Golden State Futurity (G1) and won the Los Alamitos Two Million Juvenile.
Martha Wells’ homebred Chicks Fayvorite won his maiden two starts ago and returned to rally and win his trial by a neck in :19.988, the second-fastest mark from three trials.
Chicks Fayvorite qualified for the Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) and the El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3) earlier this year.
Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship at Los Alamitos
Expected to lead the way in the 400-yard, $100,000 Spencer Childers Breeders Championship is Ed Allred’s homebred He Looks Hot. The Walk Thru Fire gelding is hot with a win in the Vessels Maturity (G1) for trainer Scott Willoughby in his latest start. He fought to a neck win in the Vessels Maturity to earn a Champion of Champions invitation.
He Looks Hot is fortunate to be alive. Last year, he had two colic surgeries and did not race. In 2014, He Looks Hot won the Los Alamitos Two Million (G1) and finished third in the Governors’ Cup Futurity (RG3).
Zia Futurity at Ruidoso Downs
By By JJ Limited Partnership’s homebred Running Dragon is the two-year-old New Mexico-bred princess. The Zulu Dragon filly is undefeated from five starts with two futurity wins, all against New Mexico-bred rivals.
In her trial to the $409,100 Zia Futurity (RG1), Running Dragon lengthened her stride throughout the 400 yards to win by two-and-one-half lengths in :19.954, the second-fastest qualifying time.
Astorga Racing LLC’s Big Spurs was the top qualifier at :19.866, however has lost to Running Dragon in their two meetings in futurity finals.
Zia Derby at Ruidoso Downs
Trainer Ronald Stephens, owner Yaneth Cabrera and jockey Ivan Carnero made a statement in the Zia Derby (RG1) trials with the top two qualifiers and the fifth-fastest qualifier.
Jess Cruzin On By is the top qualifier, A Blazin Flash is the second-fastest qualifier while Super Star Smith checked in as the fifth-fastest qualifier.
A son of Jesse James Jr, Jess Cruzin On By made his seasonal debut in the trials and rolled to his fifth win from seven starts. He dominated the last half of the 400-yard contest to win by 2 1/4 lengths with a :19.843 time.
John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge at Ruidoso Downs
James Sills’ Feature Moonflash and El Cabresto Racing Stables’ Tac It To The Moon finished just a nose apart in the second of five trials with the top-two qualifying marks to the John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge (G3). Feature Moonflash was timed in :17.691 for the 350 yards while Tac It To The Moon recorded a :17.699 time, a difference of only .008.
The Eddie Willis-trained Feature Moonflash raced to his second win from four starts in the trial. He was sixth in the Oklahoma Futurity (G3).
Tac It To The Moon, trained by Brian Muse, has three outs and won his maiden in his debut.
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