Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
There is star power at Sunland Park.
By Martha Claussen and Jonothan Horowitz | April 12, 2017
AQHA Champion Jockey Esgar Ramirez Still Hard at Work
By Martha Claussen
Being named 2016 AQHA champion jockey was a dream come true for Esgar Ramirez. His storybook year was highlighted by the rare All American Futurity-Derby double as he piloted EC Jet One to victory in the All American Derby and followed that up with a win aboard Imperial Eagle in racing’s prestigious All American Futurity. With four Grade 1 victories and earnings in excess of $4.4 million, Ramirez secured his first AQHA champion jockey title.
The January 21 awards ceremony was an incredible memory for the married father of three, who was born in El Paso and now resides in Anthony, New Mexico. On his own admission, he got to that pinnacle of success based on hard work and dedication to the sport he loves.
That foundation has not changed.
After time off for a family celebration at Disneyland, Ramirez has been busy, both on the farm working babies and winning races. Heading into the second week in April, the talented rider has already won 23 races, and just eclipsed the $500,000 mark in earnings this year.
This Saturday, he will ride Presteejess for owner Vincente Contreras in the West Texas Futurity (G2) at Sunland Park. Bred by AQHA champion breeder Bobby D. Cox, the son of Mr Jess Perry finished fourth in a very contentious trial and qualified with the ninth-fastest clocking. He is still a maiden, and installed at 10-1 on the morning line, but that makes no difference to Ramirez as he gears up for the grade 2 final.
“In that kind of race, if you are in, you have a chance,” said the rider. “It is always special to ride a horse bred by Bobby; he is one of the greatest breeders and a really nice owner as well.”
Of course, Ramirez truly does believe in ignoring the odds and riding to the best of his abilities.
New Mexico racing has been good to Ramirez, but as his stock rises, he is on the top of the list for trainers across the country in major futurities and derbies. Ricky Ramirez, 2015 AQHA champion jockey, qualified three runners to the $1,032,400 Remington Park Futurity (RG2) for Oklahoma-bred 2-year-olds. Discussions are underway for Esgar to pick up the riding assignment on EOS A Political Win, a colt by Apollitical Jess, for the April 22 final.
“I’m blessed to be where I am right now,” stated the 33-year-old rider. “I continue to work hard and try as best as I can to win every race.”
Ramirez is a very likeable guy with a unique personality combination of humility paired with a fierce competitive drive. You won’t get him to predict how many more AQHA champion titles he might win in his career. He will just keep working hard and let his success in the saddle do the talking.
Five West Texas Futurity Finalists Emerge from the Same Trial
By Jonathan Horowitz
Sunland Park in New Mexico conducted nine trials featuring 81 2-year-olds for the 300-yard, $230,100 Grade 2 West Texas Futurity. Yet half the field of 10 for Saturday’s final was determined after just the first trial.
Mountain Holme and jockey Ruben Calderon captured the productive first trial on March 24 in :15.241. The gray filly owned by Eduardo Lugo and trained by Jimmy Guerra was one of only nine horses in the trials with a previous race under her belt, and the race experience benefitted her in the trial victory by a nose. She will be the only finalist with two previous career starts.
Also from the first trial, second-place finisher JM Katlyn, a 23-1 longshot in the trials, and jockey Manuel Gutierrez qualified third-fastest in :15.243. Third-place finisher Phantom Fury posted the seventh-fastest trial time of :15.338. Fourth-place Presteejess was ninth-fastest in the trials in :15.358. Fifth-place Famous Corona Miss, the 9-5 favorite in the trial, made it into the finals 10th-fastest in :15.387.
Suenos Dineros qualified fastest with a three-quarter-length win in the fourth trial in :15.215. The sorrel gelding was the only favorite to win his trial race, suggesting how difficult many of the early futurity races are to handicap. He is one of three West Texas Futurity finalists trained by Shae Cox, along with Phantom Fury and Rosicky. Jockey Jose Enriquez rode all three Cox trainees in the trials and will be aboard Suenos Dineros in the finals. Rosicky, who will now have Cody Jensen in the saddle for the finals, recorded the largest margin of victory in the trials with a 2 1/4-length win in :15.281 in the second trial.
The other trial winner in the finals is Justin Joiner-trained Final Down, who captured the eighth trial by three-quarter lengths in :15.274 under jockey Salvador Martinez. The same jockey-trainer combination teamed to win the 2015 West Texas Futurity with Nucky.
So, the finals represent an intriguing matchup among the experience and competitive advantage of Mountain Holme, the speed of Suenos Dineros, and the domination of Rosicky. The three will be able to keep close tabs on each other breaking from the three outside post positions in the finals.
Wrangler Racing Ace Jonathan Horowitz’ Top-Four Selections:
#10 Mountain Holme
#9 Suenos Dineros
#2 Jm Katlyn
Wrangler Racing Aces in April
Visit the Q-Racing page on Facebook or follow the Aces @AQHARacing 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, Sunland Park, Turf Paradise, Sam Houston Race Park and Remington Park.
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