Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Mother Nature is cruel, but maturing racehorses are awesome.
By Martha Claussen and John Hernandez | March 15, 2016
Coping With Mother Nature Daunting for Horsemen
By Martha Claussen
Mother Nature had Louisiana horsemen on the ropes last week when the Shreveport area flooded. On Thursday, March 10, Louisiana Downs officials ordered an evacuation of the backside by 10 a.m. Friday morning.
Kenneth Roberts Sr. qualified Heisa Hot Ticket and An American Outlaw for the $86,190 Mardi Gras Derby, and had sent them back to his farm following the trials. However, he still had 44 horses stabled at Louisiana Downs and had to mobilize very quickly.
"I called owners, friends and everybody I could think of to come help," explained Roberts. "The support was amazing; I didn't think we could get all the horses out, but we did!"
Roberts had been through the drill before when Hurricane Issac hit New Orleans in August 2012 and over 700 horses were evacuated from Fair Grounds. The final of the $264,480 Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association Sale Futurity (RG1) was shifted to Evangeline Downs.
He commended the efforts of Trent McIntosh and his staff at Louisiana Downs.
"They tried their best for us not to move, but we understood their decision."
It just reinforced the adaptability of people in the Quarter Horse industry.
"We've never packed a barn down so quickly in our lives," added trainer Amanda Buchanan-Hadley, who hauled her horses to Sam Houston Race Park.
Mother Nature has wreaked havoc in many other states than Louisiana! New Mexico horsemen never want to relive July 2008 when up to nine inches of rain associated with Hurricane Dolly hit Ruidoso with a vengeance. Nine bridges were reported under water and several roads were closed, including part of U.S. 70, the area's main highway. Ruidoso Downs was flooded, forcing the complete cancelation of an entire race card.
"The race track is a river. I've never seen it like this here," said trainer Joel Marr at the time.
Texas horseman Jose S. Espinosa will never forget his 2013 encounter with Mother Nature and tornados. He had driven to Oklahoma City on a Friday evening to see his filly, Big Biz Perry, compete in the next day’s $1,075,260 Heritage Place Futurity (G1).
"We arrived at the hotel, and they immediately sent everyone into the basement," said Espinosa. "I've been through hurricanes in Texas, but this was my first experience with a tornado. It was terrifying. We were in the bunkers, and all I could do was worry about my horses."
Fortunately, Remington Park was not affected and the next day, Big Biz Perry set a new track record and rewarded her supporters with a $60.80 win payout.
Let's hope that Mother Nature will give racing a long grace period in 2016. However, there is no doubt that the members of the Quarter Horse racing community will stand up to her challenges as they have done many times in the past.
Like a Fine Wine…Better With Age
By John Hernandez
One thing for sure, the big winners this past season at Hialeah Park, Moonin The Eagle and EC Jet One, appear to have gotten stronger and faster as they’ve grown and matured.
Ditto for AJs High, the upset winner of the $54,400 Eastex Handicap (G2) at Remington Park on March 13 and a meet champion last season at Prairie Meadows.
And there’s Moonist too! The now 5-year-old gelding has started the year with a pair of victories over 2015 world champion Heza Dasha Fire and sits atop the first 2016 AQHA Racing-Horseplayernow.com National Poll for 3-year-olds and up.
Those four runners are the equine version of the old saying, “Like fine wines, they get better with age.”
Moonist, who has never raced at any track other than Los Alamitos over 32 lifetime outings, served notice as a 2-year-old when he won 4 of his first 10 starts in California.
The gelded son of Separatist out of the First Down Dash mare Your First Moon, bred by the nearby Vessels Stallion Farm, followed up his rookie year with a near-perfect 10-9-0-0 mark as a 3-year-old in 2014 and a 10-7-2-1 record as a 4-year-old in 2015.
With a trials victory and the Los Alamitos Winter Championship stakes score already on his resume at the start of his 5-year-old campaign, there are plenty of reasons to believe Moonist is primed for another spectacular season!
Moonin The Eagle, who sits second in the poll behind his half brother, is the Vessels Stallion Farm runner who “got away” from California.
He ended up in Florida where the son of One Famous Eagle made his only start as a 2-year-old at Hialeah Park when he won a stakes trial in late 2014.
He finished second to Seize The Win in the 2015 Hialeah Derby, which has turned out to be the last time he tasted defeat in South Florida.
This past season at Hialeah Park, Moonin The Eagle won all three of his starts including victories in the Hialeah Maturity and the prestigious Sam Abbey Memorial Invitational Championship.
He earned “horse of the meet” honors by the slimmest of margins over Enrique Carrion’s EC Jet One.
“The Jet” scored a solid victory in the 2016 Hialeah Derby and earned a dead heat share of the top spot with stablemate Carters Sixty Six in the South Florida Quarter Horse Derby in his most recent start.
As for the temperamental AJs High, perhaps his Eastex Handicap score is an indication that his connections have finally solved the starting gate issues that have plagued him in some of his biggest opportunities to date.
There are plenty of races left to be run in 2016 … all signs indicate these four pros are in for good years.
Wrangler Racing Aces in March
Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen will be onsite at Louisiana Downs on Sunday, March 20, for the resceduled 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.