Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Pride of breeders shine Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park.
By Martha Claussen and Denis Blake | April 18, 2017
Cutting Up with J. E. Jumonville
By Martha Claussen
It’s hard not to get excited about Saturday’s $103,320 Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G2). The reigning AQHA world champion Jessies First Down, bred and owned by Ted Abrams Sr. returns as one of two contenders trained by AQHA champion trainer Judd Kearl.
His other finalist is Dutcher, bred in Louisiana by Jumonville Farms. The farm’s owner J. E. Jumonville named Dutcher after his middle son, Dutch, who runs the family’s breeding farm in Ventress, Louisiana. It’s hard to sum up J. E. in a few words as in addition to loving horses, he also served as a Louisiana senator from 1976 - 1992. He worked diligently on racing legislature and contract negotiations with Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing associations in Louisiana to return 50 percent of their gross handles to horsemen in the form of purses.
Breeding racehorses is his livelihood, but his roots began in cutting horses. He and his mare Dry Dot performed from amateur and open regional competitions to a third-place finish in open cutting at the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes in 1982. J.E. developed many friendships in the cutting horse world, including Dave Brian, the director of shows for the National Cutting Horse Association. Several years ago, J.E. and his wife, Bunny, invited several couples to Ruidoso Downs to enjoy the races and attend the 2008 Ruidoso Select Sale. Dave Brian professed to have no interest in owning a racehorse, but studied the catalog and even bid $70,000 on Apollitical Jess. The consignors would not take less than $150,000, and the fine yearling turned into an incredible racing champion and sire.
Brian followed the career of Apollitical Jess with interest and asked Jumonville if he had a mare they could breed in a partnership.
“I said yes,” said Jumonville. “We decided on Louisiana Eye Opener and I told Dave that every baby we raise, we consign. We hauled Dutcher to Ruidoso and showed him to trainer Juan Aleman. He agreed to train him.”
A partnership was structured with Jumonville Farms and Brian Ranch owning two-thirds and the remaining shares divided between 27 folks in the cutting horse world. In each of Dutcher’s 18 career starts, several of the cutting horse part-owners attend the races; some of them for the first time! More than 20 were on hand when Dutcher ran in the Texas Classic Derby (G1) at Lone Star Park where J.E. personally escorted them to the paddock and they enjoyed an up close and personal view of the racing experience.
Dave Brian will not be in Houston this weekend, as his daughter is getting married Saturday night. But J.E. will be there, hopefully joined by several of the cutting horse owners to see fastest qualifier Dutcher compete in the Bank of America Texas Challenge and potentially compete in the $330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1).
“He’s two-time Grade one placed,” said Jumonville. “The horse is training better than ever, and Judd is doing a great job. Our hope is to be competitive, so we will just see how he does facing the world champion.”
In 2015, AQHA honored Jumonville Farms as a Legacy Award Winner. They joined a select group of breeders who have registered at least one foal for 50 consecutive years. With Dutch taking on his father’s passion for breeding Quarter Horses, Jumonville Farms will likely continue their success in the industry for many more years to come.
They hope that a victory with Dutcher Saturday night will also get their cutting horse friends fired up about owning more racing future champions.
Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge
By Denis Blake
Handicapping American Quarter Horse racing can be a challenging and rewarding endeavor, but in the case of the $103,320 Bank of America Texas Championship Challenge (G2) it doesn’t appear to be very difficult. Of course, anything can happen in racing and nothing is guaranteed, but it looks like reigning world champion #3 Jessies First Down will be tough to be here.
Ted Abrams’ homebred son of FDD Dynasty won eight of 11 starts last year for champion trainer Judd Kearl, and he kicked off his 2017 campaign with an easy victory in the trials. Jessies First Down has banked nearly $600,000 in his career, and no other horse in the field has earned more than $160,000. He figures to be a short price, but Jessies First Down clearly has the best chance to win and earn a spot in the $330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) this fall at Prairie Meadows.
If Jessies First Down can be beat, the horse to do it might be #6 Dutcher, who is also trained by Kearl. Dutcher is a proven graded stakes competitor, as he finished second in Grade 1 Vessels Maturity last year at Los Alamitos and second in the Texas Classic Derby (G1) the year prior at Lone Star Park. He even posted a faster qualifying time in his trial than Jessies First Down, although it appeared that the world champion could have gone much faster if needed.
#5 TLC Dale is another proven graded stakes runner and has an impressive record of 3-2-1-0 at Sam Houston, including a win in last year’s Sam Houston Derby (G3). He’s hit the board in 11 of 12 starts, so be sure to use him in any exotic wagers.
#7 Red Corona Warrior is one to look at for a longshot. Even though 440 yards doesn’t appear to be his best distance, he does have two wins in five starts at Sam Houston.
Wrangler Racing Ace Denis Blake’s Top-Four Selections:
#3 Jessies First Down
#5 TLC Dale
#7 Red Corona Warrior
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, SunRay Park, Delta Downs and Remington Park.
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