Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Dreams will come true this weekend at Ruidoso Downs.

Q-Racing Journal

Fastest qualifier Volcom Bay heads the field in Sunday's $2.4-million All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs.

Chance of a Lifetime for Bennie and Teresa Jeter with Volcom Bay
By Martha Claussen

Volcom Bay is poised for a truly memorable afternoon Sunday at Ruidoso Downs when she enters the starting gate of the $2.4 million All American Derby (G1) as the fastest qualifier.

Bennie and Teresa Jeter own the daughter of the First Down Dash stallion Volcom, who was purchased for $43,000 at the 2014 Heritage Place Yearling Sale. She is trained by Judd Kearl and Jeter was asked what he liked about the filly when she passed through the sale ring.

Bennie and Teresa Jeter's Volcom Bay,
pictured here winning his trial on a muddy
track, is one of four All American Derby
finalists from the barn of trainer Judd Kearl.
PHOTO: Gay Harris

"I wasn't there," explained Jeter. "Buying the filly wasn't anything I instructed Judd to do, but he did it anyway! He just called me and told me he bought a nice yearling and to send the money to Heritage Place."

Any regret about spending $43,000 is gone and forgotten as his filly has already won four races and earned $227,227. More than the money, she is on the brink of winning one of Quarter Horse's richest and most prestigious races.

Jeter, who lives in Alvarado, Texas, will arrive in Ruidoso Thursday afternoon with his wife, Teresa.  The couple will celebrate their 49th anniversary in November.

"The reality has not sunk in yet," admitted Jeter. "We were so excited when she qualified; that was the best race of her life."

Kearl, who is loaded with talented 3-year-olds this year, has always believe that Volcom Bay, was a very special racehorse. He recalls her misfortune in the final of the $1 million Ruidoso Derby (G1) on June 11. She was the fastest qualifier, but had to be vanned off after her defeat by Jess Good Candy.

"The filly had an entrapped epiglottis and underwent surgery," reported Kearl. "She still ran second without being able to breathe!"

Jeter has tremendous respect for Kearl, who is having a banner year. Heading into the All American Weekend, the 41-year old conditioner leads all AQHA Quarter Horse trainers with 100 wins and $2.3 million in purses. In addition to Volcom Bay, Kearl will saddle three other finalists in the All American Derby:  second-fastest qualifier Ec Jet One, fifth-fastest qualifier First Fancy Racy, and sixth-fastest qualifier Brave Heart Won.

Kearl calls Volcom Bay a "once in a lifetime" horse for the Jeters, who also owned stakes winners Surprisingly Special, Executive Prince and 2015 TQHA champion 3-year-old colt, Rc Me Leaving You.

"Judd has trained for me since 2005 and has made a commitment to me and my wife to keep us at the top level of racing.  He and his crew, especially Jimmy Padgett, have done an exceptional job."

Jeter has enjoyed every moment of the journey with his special filly.

"She's very calm in her stall and like to be loved on," he explained.  "While she adores affection and attention, she's all business once she heads to the racetrack."

Many have commented on Kearl's serious expressions in his win photos and have urged him to smile more in post-race presentations. Jeter has no worries about that should Volcom Bay prevail on Sunday afternoon.

"Oh, there won't even be the slightest doubt he'll be smiling," said Jeter. "We will all be thrilled and Judd will be one proud person!"

The Marfa Lights Peaking at the Right Time for the All American Futurity
By Denis Blake

The All American Futurity is always a challenge to handicap, and this edition is no exception with all but two of the finalists coming in off a victory in the trials.

The Marfa Lights, pictured here
with jockey Larry Payne, is Racing
Ace Denis Blake's top selection to
win Monday's All American

This field features several horses who are short on experience but look to be long on talent. Astute handicappers will search out horses who are peaking at the right time, because the winner will need a career-best effort to end up in the winner’s circle on Labor Day.

One horse who appears to fit that criteria is The Marfa Lights. The son of One Famous Eagle (the sire of four finalists) had a fairly ordinary racing debut when he ran fourth in his Ruidoso Futurity (G1) trial. He took a step forward to win his Rainbow Futurity (G1) trial but wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the final. In his All American Futurity heat, he again improved while drawing away to win by nearly three lengths.

Even more impressively, The Marfa Lights galloped out very strongly under jockey Larry Payne and appeared to relish the 440-yard distance. His pedigree is eye-catching, as breeder Vessels Stallion Farm LLC has produced three previous All American Futurity winners, and his dam Your First Moon was a champion and has produced numerous stakes winners, including one of the top horses in recent years, Moonist. Plus, trainer Jim Helzer is one of the most accomplished horsemen in the sport and he owned 1990 All American Futurity winner Refrigerator.

Apolltical Chad did not win his All American trial, but he’s the most accomplished finalist as the winner of the Ruidoso Futurity, in which he defeated eventual Rainbow Futurity winner A Revenant. Trainer Wes Giles opted to pass on the Rainbow with Apolltical Chad, so he should be a fresh horse in the All American.

Coronas First Diva was one of the top juveniles early in the year when she won the Oklahoma Futurity (G3) and qualified to the Heritage Place Futurity (G1) at Remington Park. She got a 2 ½-month rest before her All American trial, and she responded with a big effort.

Koolnfamous was a maiden prior to winning his All American trial and enters with earnings of just $3,730, but he does have a couple things going for him. His pedigree includes the great racemare Kool Kue Baby, and he picks up the services of all-time leading Quarter Horse jockey G.R. Carter Jr., who is coming out of a short retirement to ride in the All American.

Wrangler Racing Aces Onsite at Ruidoso for All American Weekend

Jennifer Hancock and Denis Blake will visit Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5 on behalf of the  Racing Aces, a fan education program initiated by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA).   This will be the seventh All American weekend visit to Ruidoso Downs by the Wrangler Racing Aces. They will join track handicapper Tim Keithley for his pre-race show to offer their analysis of the Sunday and Monday races at Ruidoso Downs, including the All American Derby and Futurity.

On both days, the Aces will greet fans at their information kiosk adjacent to the Ruidoso Downs main entrance.  Free wagering information, courtesy of the AQHA, in English and Spanish, will be provided on American Quarter Horse racing. The Wrangler Racing Aces enjoy visiting with new fans as well as experienced handicappers and welcome any questions on Quarter Horse racing, pedigree and wagering.

Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter for handicapping selections and timely updates on racing across North America.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqharacing.com.