Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Flying high at Arapahoe, Challenge time at Retama.
By Jonathan Horowitz and Martha Claussen | August 9, 2017
Iza Captain has Taken Off to New Heights in 2017
By Jonathan Horowitz
Iza Captain has experienced the racing equivalent of going from the back of the plane to the cockpit from 2016 to 2017.
As a 2-year-old last year, the sorrel gelding was languishing at the back of the pack in most of his races, winless in eight starts and only cracking the top-three three times.
He ran in four futurity trials, two each at Arapahoe Park in Colorado and Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma, never making a final and finishing no better than fourth. His best results were two runner-ups at racing’s lowest level in maiden claiming contests.
But Iza Captain’s fortunes have changed dramatically as a 3-year-old this year at Arapahoe Park.
Following a sixth-month layoff, Iza Captain made his first start of the year in the Dolls Prodigy Stakes on June 4 and accomplished the rare racing feat of winning his first career race in a stakes race under veteran jockey Vince Guerra. That victory in the 350-yard, $15,000 race for Colorado-bred 3-year-olds set Iza Captain up for a run in the state’s most prestigious derby, the Lucille Rowe Derby. The Julio Corral trainee was second in spite of a troubled trip in a June 30 trial, making up more than a length under jockey Fernando Fonseca-Soto. Then in the 350-yard, $60,000 finals on July 9, with Jose Ruiz as his third different jockey in his third race of the season, Iza Captain cruised to a 1-length win.
“He didn’t break that fast,” Ruiz said. “But in, like, 50 yards, I started moving him. He was coming fast, and he finished strong. He did everything perfectly.”
Ruiz is scheduled to be back aboard when Iza Captain goes for his third stakes win of the year in Saturday’s 400-yard, $30,000 Arapahoe Park Derby. A finish in the top-two would make Iza Captain the highest-earning horse owned by Pedro and Lilia Andazola ahead of Rock That Wagon, a winner of multiple stakes races at Arapahoe Park.
“I had never ridden this horse,” Ruiz said. “But the owners told me he was a pretty nice horse.”
That may not have been something Iza Captain’s owners would have said one year ago, but now they can sit back, relax and enjoy the flight that has seen Iza Captain earn 671 percent more in 2017 in less than half the number of starts than he did in 2016.
Competitive Field in John Deere Retama Juvenile Challenge
By Martha Claussen
The Retama Park Quarter Horse meet wraps up this Saturday night with the final of the $57,960 Adequan Derby Challenge and the $69,750 John Deere Juvenile Challenge. Both races will give the winner an opportunity to advance to the Bank of America Challenge Championships on October 14 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.
Let’s take a look at the contenders in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge. Trials were contested on July 29, and K and W Land and Cattle Co.’s homebred Ivory Noche rolled to a 1¾-length victory in the second trial to post the fastest time. Ridden by jockey Juan Garcia Jr., Ivory Noche, a son of Ivory James out of the Tres Seis mare Tres Dia Noche broke from the far outside post, driving to the top mark of :17.723, a 99 speed index. His fifth-place showing in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park on May 20 is the only time in five career starts that Ivory Noche has not finished first or second. Garcia has the return call and will break from post position five.
The Cartel Warrior, a son of The Louisiana Cartel for owners Flat Broke Racing, was the fifth-fastest qualifier, but should not be ignored in the final. He broke his maiden in trials for the Old South Futurity at Delta Downs, running seventh in the final. The bay gelding has won his last two at Retama and will be ridden by Jose Vega. Installed at odds of 10-1, look for him to be flying late from the ninth post position on Saturday night and perhaps spring the upset.
Mystical Jess, bred and owned by Juan Lozano Jr., set the second-fastest clocking of the night, winning the fifth trial in :17.757 under jockey Damian Martinez. The Apollitical Jess filly broke her maiden in her fourth career start by a margin of 2 lengths and could be peaking at the right time for trainer Josue Ponce.
Another filly with plenty of upside is Jess Adalida, who notched the third-fastest qualifying time for owner David Martinez. By Jess Louisiana Blue, she made her debut at Sunland Park, running second in the $50,000 West Texas Juvenile on April 15. The sorrel filly will be seeking her third win in a row and reunites with jockey Luciana Duenez. Despite being bumped in her trial, the young rider was able to steady Jess Adalida and rally strongly for the victory, finishing 2 ¼ lengths ahead of the runner-up.
The winning 2-year-old will earn a berth to the $130,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2), on October 14. Prairie Meadows will host the Bank of America Challenge Championships for the second time.
Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen’s Selections:
#5 Ivory Noche
#10 The Cartel Warrior
#2 Mystical Jess
#3 Jess Adalida
Wrangler Racing Aces in August
Wrangler Racing Ace Denis Blake will appear at Gillespie Fair Grounds in Fredericksburg, Texas on Sunday, August 13. He will be on hand throughout the afternoon with fan education materials and giveaway items, courtesy of AQHA.
Visit the @AQHARacing page on Facebook or follow the Aces 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, Ruidoso Downs, The Downs at Albuquerque, Canterbury Park and Indiana Grand.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.