All American: Eddie Willis

Eddie Willis saddles two in Sunday's All American Derby.

Quarter Racing Journal

One Fabulous Eagle.

On Sunday afternoon, Eddie Willis will send out two starters in the industry’s richest race for 3-year-olds, the $2,414,691 All American Derby (G1).

The Oklahoma-based trainer put Cesar Gomez aboard both Boogies Special Dash and One Fabulous Eagle to qualify in the August 21 trials at Ruidoso Downs.

Running in the 11th trial, Kenneth Ruthardt’s Boogies Special Dash (Walk Thru Fire-Boogie Special by Strawfly Special) responded with a :21.301 mark, the sixth-fastest time, while winning by 1 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Bred by Jaime Gomez in California, the sorrel gelding is in peak form after a second-place run behind Valiant Rogue in the July 23 Rainbow Derby (G1) in his previous start. Boogies Special Dash has earned $264,092.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Willis said. “‘Boogie’ ran here in Ruidoso and in Oklahoma last year, and he’s run here all this year. But the horse really came into his own this year as a 3-year-old. The horse looks a lot better as a 3-year-old than he did as a 2-year-old, and he showed it on the racetrack.

“He won his trial by a length and a half,” the trainer said. “He looked really good in his trial. I ponied him to the gate, took him down there. He left on the front and finished the race really strong, and that’s what you’re always looking for.

“Boogie looked really good this morning (on Thursday),” Willis said. “I jogged him around the track and let him limber up a little bit, and he looked really nice, went really good.”

Running in the eighth trial, Darling Farms’ One Fabulous Eagle (One Famous Eagle-Ladys Heart Of Gold by Strawfly Special) clocked :21.309 for the fourth-fastest time, while also drawing in First Valiant Sign, the eighth-fastest qualifier with a :21.363 time.

Bred by Christine Hudson in Texas, the bay colt was a close second to Jess Good Candy in last year’s All American Futurity (G1) and came into the All American Derby trials off a daylight win in the $100,000 Corona Cartel Stakes on July 23.

“He’s been a really nice horse his whole career,” Willis said. “My son Kasey had him last year and he ran second in the All American. This year ‘Eagle’ hadn’t qualified for nothing but this race – but this race is the one you want to qualify for. He’s won his last three races, and he looked really good doing it.

“He’s not a really super gate horse,” the trainer continued. “But when he gets on out there and goes to covering a lot of ground, he runs really good on the end of it and finishes really strong. He pulled up great from his trial, and he really looks better than I’ve ever seen him before.

“Eagle’s a stud colt, but he’s really nice to be around,” he said. “I took him to the track this morning and he handled everything like a professional.”

Gomez will ride One Fabulous Eagle in the Derby final, while Larry Payne will take Boogies Special Dash.

“Cesar picked Eagle to ride,” Willis said. “He likes him he best, thinks he’s a little stronger finisher.

“Larry will fit Boogie really good,” he continued. “He’s the type of horse that likes somebody to sit still on him and he’ll run really good for him.”

So now they wait for Sunday.

“I think Boogie and Eagle are both really good quarter-of-a-mile horses and I think they’ll both run a good race,” Willis concluded. “We haven’t had to do very much with either one since the trials. They’re both fit enough. When you run them this late in the year, they’re ready to run. They both look really good to me.”

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