Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Hopes and dreams abound at Louisiana Downs.
By Martha Claussen and Denis Blake | March 9, 2016
|Raul Ramirez Jr. PHOTO: Coady Photography|
Jockey Raul Ramirez Jr. Hopes for Success in Oklahoma
By Martha Claussen
The past two years have been good for Quarter Horse jockey Raul Ramirez Jr. He capped off 2014 with a victory aboard Jose Guzman's JLS Dashn And Zoomn in the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity (RG1) at Evangeline Downs. Ranked 14th in AQHA standings, Ramirez won 67 races with earnings of $1.8 million.
His good fortune in 2015 began at Louisiana Downs, with a victory in the Mardi Gras Derby and a tie with David Alvarez for leading rider honors for the meet. In April, he rode Ivan James to victory in the $621,100 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), followed by solid showings at Delta Downs, Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs. Last November, he added another seven-figure futurity belt buckle, piloting Jess A Saint to the wire in the 2015 LQHBA Breeders Futurity. He was honored as the AQHA-Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Month for the month of November. The award is voted on by a panel of Quarter Horse racing experts for riding accomplishments and achievements for the previous month of racing. He concluded 2015 as the fifth-leading rider in the country, with 127 wins and mounts who earned $2.5 million.
The 34-year-old rider, known to his friend as "Chico" is poised for a big weekend at Louisiana Downs as he will ride the fastest qualifiers in both the $273,054 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) and $86,190 Mardi Gras Derby.
He drew the outside post with Miguel A. Aguilar's RDD Lajollanfastdash and has confidence in the 2-year-old son of Heza Fast Dash.
"He does not act like a 2-year-old," explains Ramirez. "His maturity and his professionalism is much more like a 4-year-old racehorse. In the trial, the horse next to me was acting up, but he stayed calm and just took off. Two-year-olds are like little kids; some are cool and others are reckless!"
Of course, Ramirez is thrilled to reunite with Jess A Saint in the Mardi Gras Derby after their good fortune in the rich LQHBA Breeders Futurity.
"Jess A Saint did not run in the early futurities last year," explained Ramirez. "He was too big and clumsy; we had to wait for him to develop. He's grown and matured. In his trial for the Derby, he was very relaxed in the gates; left good and after the first jump, just took off. He pricked his ears and had them beat all the way."
Ramirez is grateful for the support he received in Texas and Louisiana, but has made the decision to go to Oklahoma for the upcoming Remington Park Quarter Horse meet.
"2015 was the biggest year of my career," said Ramirez. "I have been working horses for Brian Muse in Oklahoma and wanted to try something different. Hopefully I can get an opportunity to ride some 2-year-olds that are good enough to go to Ruidoso. Every jockey's dream is to win the All American Futurity, so I am going to give it a try."
The good news is that Ramirez will return to ride the bigger stakes throughout the year in Louisiana. As his career has surged, so has his popularity with racing fans.
Good luck, Chico!
| RDD Lajollanfastdash.
PHOTO: Coady Photography
Raw Talent is Real Deal: Handicapping the Mardi Gras Futurity
By Denis Blake
As a general rule, favorites win more often in American Quarter Horse racing as compared to Thoroughbred racing. Simply put, the fastest horse (who is usually favored) has more success in a Quarter Horse dash because pace doesn’t come into play, so there’s no need to worry about that affecting the outcome of a race. With that said, 2-year-old races, especially early in the year, can be challenging as young horses often improve dramatically with little notice. So it should come as no surprise that the Mardi Gras Futurity, as the first stakes of the year for juveniles, has produced some big upsets over its nearly 30-year history. Last year’s winner came home at odds of 8-1, and in the two prior years horses at odds of 11-1 and 33-1 found the winner’s circle.
This year, however, might bring that streak to an end as No. 10 RDD Lajollanfastdash looks to be an overwhelming favorite for trainer Willie Simien Jr. and jockey Raul Ramirez Jr. The son of prolific 2-year-old sire Heza Fast Dash, himself an accomplished juvenile runner, crushed the field by 3 1/4 lengths in the trials. The timer showed just how impressive that victory was, as the gelding clocked 300 yards in 15:531, or more than 3/10ths of a second faster than the next qualifier. That equates to about two lengths, which is a huge difference, especially at 300 yards. If he runs that kind of race again in the final, or even something close to that, he will be very tough to beat.
If you are looking for a price, consider No. 7 Gamepatriotdeluxe. He lost by a head in his trial after being bumped, and a better effort could be in order for his second start. His dam, the Corona Cartel mare Corona Deluxe, was a Grade 1-placed runner as a 2-year-old and is the dam of 2013 All American Futurity (G1) runner-up Reagal Eagle. Plus Corona Deluxe is from the family of world champion Wave Carver, and Game Patriot is a strong juvenile sire, so there’s a lot to like about Gamepatriotdeluxe’s pedigree.
Top Four Selections:
#10 RDD Lajollanfastdash
#1 Streakin PYC
#5 Shaded Oak Tree
|Wrangler Racing Aces|
Wrangler Racing Aces in March
Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen will be onsite at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, March 12, for the Mardi Gras Futurity and Derby. She will provide her tip sheet and AQHA handicapping materials as well as complimentary $2 betting vouchers, courtesy of Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (while supplies last).
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.