Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Dealing with the "terrible twos."
By Denis Blake and Martha Claussen | April 5, 2017
Handicapping Tips for the 2-Year-Olds
By Denis Blake
You’ve probably heard of the “terrible twos,” referring to the age when youngsters of the human kind tend to be a little unruly and defiant (and if you have older kids, you know that tends to return again in the teenage years). When it comes to American Quarter Horses, 2-year-olds can also be a little unruly as they learn to become racehorses. So what does that have to do with handicapping? Quite a bit, actually.
As 2-year-old racing really starts to take off in April, now is a good time to consider a few handicapping tips for these kinds of races. As you look at the entries for tracks around the country in the coming months, you will see lots and lots of futurity trials. This is where many horses will make their career debuts, as even the best trainers never really know how good a horse is until he gets in the starting gate for a real race.
Ultimately though, not every horse is destined to be a stakes horse, and this is where you can make some money at the windows. Oftentimes you will see a horse drop out of an unsuccessful trial race and into a maiden race. This can be a huge class drop, especially for a horse coming out of a trial for a graded futurity. So even if you see a horse who was well beaten in a trial, take the time to understand what race that trial was for and what caliber of horses were running in that particular trial. You will sometimes see horses improve dramatically when dropping from a trial race to a maiden race.
Another thing to look for is the sometimes dreaded outside post position for 2-year-olds. These horses are still learning how to race, so when an inexperienced runner breaks from the outermost gate, you will often see him veer out toward the rail. So watch for horses who were compromised and did not break well from the outside post in their debut, as you will often see them improve next time out. Also, look for horses who were unruly going into the gate for their first start and might have used up a lot of energy in the process. After getting used to loading in the gate, these horses often improve too.
Finally, as mentioned in previous blogs, take the time to watch replays of morning workouts or training races, which are available for several major tracks. You can often find some hidden gems that will pay off nicely. Good luck!
First Moonflash Well Represented at Sunland Park
By Martha Claussen
Saturday afternoon’s 10th race at Sunland Park is the final of the $362,986 New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) for registered New Mexico-breds. Five of the 10 finalists are sired by First Moonflash, who looks to add another stakes winner to his growing list of exceptional runners. Honored as the 2009 champion aged stallion, First Moonflash has sired many notable stakes winners, including All American Futurity (G1) winner Handsome Jack Flash, All American Futurity runner-up Mad About The Moon and Too Flash For You, winner of the All American Derby (G1).
Fastest qualifier No. 9 Flash Moonfire has been installed as the top choice in the 300-yard final. The son of First Moonflash conveyed that he was a juvenile to watch even before his trial win. On February 27, he unleashed a speedy work of :11.72, clocked as the fastest of 65 runners that morning. In his trial on March 27, he drew off by 2 1/2 lengths in :15.244 under jockey Manuel Gutierrez, who will pilot the brown gelding from post position nine on Saturday. Bred by Mike Abraham, Felipe Flores, Jr. trains for owner David G. Valdez, who signed the $27,000 ticket at the 2016 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale. With a clean break, Flash Moonfire looks live.
Hard to ignore any mount ridden by 2016 AQHA champion jockey Esgar Ramirez, and he has a solid contender in No. 3 Miles Of Flash. The gelded son of First Moonflash out of the Walk Thru Fire mare Lalia, was sent off as the favorite in his trial. He did not disappoint, winning by one length in :15.424 over Two Wines, who also made the final. Trainer Fred Danley conditions Miles Of Flash for the ownership group of David and Sandra Barrett, J & SM, Inc. and Ralph Nix Jr. He will break from post position three as the 4-1 morning line second choice.
First-time gelding No. 6 Tempting Star Gazer posted the fourth-fastest qualifying time for trainer Wes Giles, who is the second-ranked Quarter Horse trainer this meet at Sunland. Also by First Moonflash, the bay ran second in his trial; Giles and owners Jose Espinoza and Jill Giles opted to end his stud colt ways on March 23. Cipriano Vidana does not get a lot of name recognition, but has piloted his share of stakes winners in Texas.
We’ll round out our top four with one of the five fillies in the race, No. 10 Wood Be Kuhl. Sired by Woodbridge, she posted the sixth-fastest clocking (:15.552) in trials, but was making up ground nearing the wire. Alejandro Medellin will guide Wood Be Kuhl from the far outside post for trainer Greg Green. Not sure she has the fire power yet to defeat the solid core of First Moonflash favorites, but believe that a top-four placing is very possible.
Last year’s winner, Running Dragon, is ranked third on the AQHA Top Ten National Racing Poll for older horses. This will be an exciting final that should produce several 2-year-olds to watch in the months to come!
Martha Claussen’s Top Four Selections:
#9 Flash Moonfire
#3 Miles of Flash
#6 Tempting Star Gazer
#10 Wood Be Kuhl
Wrangler Racing Aces in April
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