Q-Racing Blog: All American High

Long days, long nights and great races.

The All American Futurity high lasts after the race until exhaustion gains control. It follows days of races and nights of sales. Then is capped by American Quarter Horse racing’s showcase event, the $3-million All American Futurity (G1).

 The sun had just set on Labor Day and I chatted with Tom Dawson. He has seen 50 All American futurities and provided commentary on many of those runnings. Here is his view on some of the hot post-race topics.
 
The Race
“This was, basically, a three-horse race. Every horse needed to do what they needed to do to run their race. The filly (Coronas First Diva), absolutely, broke on top. She had them beat a length and a half, so she did, exactly what she needed to do. Her only chance to win it was to bust out of the gate and put some daylight on them and see if those big boys could catch her. Well, they could.

“The Marfa Lights probably had the only real difficulty in the race, but his big difficulty was being next to a horse that flipped. Which (jockey) Larry (Payne) said took his mind off of things and he’s immature anyway so he broke a little slower than he normally does, but he ran a heckuva race. He’s one of these horses that watches everything. Larry told me that he never saw the lead. By the time he got by the six horse (Coronas First Diva), the seven (Imperial Eagle) was already there.

“You couldn’t draw it up any better for Imperial Eagle. He broke decent, they spread and you could have driven three trucks through that hole he had. It gave the big horse time to gather. (Trainer) Tony Sedillo said 440 (yards) was the absolute key to him and it was.

“So you had three horses in the hunt, all the way.”

 
The All American Futurity connections.
PHOTO: Heather Evans-Gibson

Tony Sedillo, Chuck Robinson, Imperial Eagle
“To see Tony win a race in New Mexico is no big deal, he’s a 30-percent trainer. Fact is, of the 296 in the trials, he had one (Imperial Eagle). He went to the sale, how many horses did he buy? He bought one. How many did (owner) Chuck Robinson have? He had one. We’ve always said, ‘That if you have the right one, numbers don’t matter.’ How often does that happen?

“This was the perfect storm of situation of a man, with a dream to win the All American, and he tried and tried and tried. Butch Wise put him together with Tony Sedillo and Tony bought Imperial Eagle. Chuck had never seen the horse until today (All American Futurity day). It was a story that was so good that it had to be paid off.
 
Jim Helzer
Jim Helzer, 26 years ago, he’s the owner of Refrigerator. Now he’s back as a trainer with somebody else’s horse (The Marfa Lights). He was more excited, I think, than he was back in the Refrigerator days.

“Every time you talked to him, it was, ‘He’s really doing good; he’s peaking at the right time.

“You know, 55 years in the horse business and he truly loves to train horses. Even good horses, like Refrigerator, he got him ready at his place and sent them off to Sleepy (Gilbreath) or Blane (Schvaneveldt) or whoever. Now he just does it himself. He told me, “I so love training horses.’ He sold all of his businesses so now he is, officially, a horse trainer.”
 
The Changing State of Business
“This has been a 2-year-old business since it was created. No Quarter Horse trainer went to a sale looking for a 3-year-old. The money was in 2-year-olds, it started that way early in the year. A number of years ago, the average number of starts for an All American (Futurity) starter might have been eight or nine. The field would have 70 or 80 starts. Now they have closer to 40.

“When they started bringing that money over for 3-year-olds, it allowed this to flourish. Now people can afford to wait for the 3-year-old year. It’s fantastic to know that we are going to have 3-year-olds. You can go to the sale and spend the money because you know you have two years to get it back.”

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