All American Futurity Finalists Changed

Heza Streakin Legacy replaced with Dash For Stone.

NMRC Press Release

Dash For Stone will be allowed to run in the All American Futurity. PHOTO: Gay Harris

In a saga that only Hollywood could conjure up, somehow, someway, Dash For Stone, the sixth-fastest qualifier on the first day of trials will end up in the legendary $3.5 million-est. All American Futurity (G1), to be run on September 4.

The trials for the All American took place over two days of racing at the famed Ruidoso Downs on August 18 and 19. The finalist for the All American Futurity earn their way by having one of the five fastest times on each day for a total of 10 finalists.

Dash For Stone initially was not a finalist but he is now. When asked about the decision by the New Mexico Racing Commission (NMRC) to let Dash For Stone move into the finals, Chairman of the NMRC Ray Willis said, “I feel that the sixth-fastest qualifier (Dash For Stone) was, in fact, the fifth fastest. Since Heza Streakin Legacy was denied entry in accordance with NMRC rules, he should not be allowed to compete.”

The rollercoaster ride for Dash For Stone started when the horse Heza Streakin Legacy, owned by Martin Ybarra Jr. of Fort Stockton, Texas, and trained by Odessa, Texas, resident Albert Franco tested positive for clenbuterol in the hair. In accordance with the New Mexico rules of racing, a horse that tests positive for any drug that falls into any one of the five drug categories listed in the rule book shall immediately be placed on the stewards list. Heza Streakin Legacy was placed on the stewards list.

The drug positive came about for Heza Streakin Legacy when he was chosen to be tested during the major New Mexico Racing Commission hair testing offensive that had recently taken place over the last month. Heza Streakin Legacy was one of more than 120 horses whose hair was tested and were also nominated to either the All American Futurity or Derby. Of those horses tested, only 16 came back positive and none of them were qualifiers. The mission of the NMRC at the beginning of testing was to have clean hair tests from each horse in the starting gates for the finals for each respective race on September 3 and 4.

The placement of Heza Streakin Legacy on the stewards list made him ineligible to run in the first day of trials for the All American Futurity on August 18, 2017. A petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was submitted late in the business day (4:15 p.m.) on August 17, 2017, by El Paso attorney Daniel Marquez to the 12th District Court in Lincoln County, New Mexico, on behalf of Ybarra and Franco.

By 10:41 a.m. on August 18, the judge granted the TRO without notifying the NMRC or allowing the agency to defend its decision to place the horse on the stewards list. The NMRC Assistant Attorney General Audrey McKee acted quickly in contacting the judge and requested a meeting to dissolve the TRO. That request was allowed. While the two-hour midday hearing was taking place, Heza Streakin Legacy was permitted to race in the second race under the court-ordered TRO. Not only did Heza Streakin Legacy win his trial, he earned one of the top qualifying times for the day, giving him temporary qualification into the All American Futurity. As the hearing with the Lincoln County judge concluded, the judge ordered that the TRO be dissolved immediately, once again putting Heza Streakin Legacy back on the stewards list and more importantly, making him ineligible for entry into the All American Futurity.

A tough decision now loomed upon Ruidoso Downs’ management and the NMRC. Should the sixth-fastest qualifier on Day 1, Dash For Stone, move into Heza Streakin Legacy’s spot? The decision would appear fairly simple except for the fact that Ybarra and Franco would not go down without one last attempt to fulfill their lifelong dream of running in the All American Futurity. On August 24,  attorney Marquez requested an emergency hearing, once again in the 12th District Court in Lincoln County. The request was granted. This time, the NMRC was notified and had time, albeit only a handful of hours, to prepare for the hearing. The hearing was scheduled for 1:45 p.m. on Friday, August 25, which was also entry day for the All American Futurity. Entries typically close about 11 a.m. with the possibility of entries staying open later depending on how races are filling. Any decision by Ruidoso management at this point would be a gamble either way. If they allowed Dash For Stone to move up, there was a chance the judge would rule in favor of Ybarra and Franco. If Dash For Stone did not enter, they ran the risk of only having nine entrants in the world’s richest Quarter Horse race. In fact, Ybarra and Franco actually attempted to enter Heza Streakin Legacy on the morning of August 25. The entry was denied by the Ruidoso Downs Board of Stewards due to the horse being ineligible as ordered by the earlier court decision.

Shortly thereafter, at 1:45 p.m. on August 25, the NMRC was prepared to defend itself before the Lincoln County judge. After an approximately 3 1/2-hour hearing, the judge ruled that the horse Heza Streakin Legacy shall remain on the stewards list, confirming his decision on August 18.

Once again the question became “Do racing officials allow Dash For Stone to enter the All American after entries had been taken?” Traditionally, the post positions are not drawn until several days after entries are taken during a special ceremony. The decision finally came down early on Saturday, August 26, to let Dash For Stone fill the spot made available on Friday.

Although the road to the All American was somewhat bumpy, filled with twists and turns for Dash For Stone, the decision to let him run in the finals has a “feel good” charm to it. A deserving horse that theoretically earned a spot in the finals by competing hard and adhering to NMRC testing standards taking the spot of a horse who should not have even been able to compete due to a drug violation. Officials did not have to let him draw in, but many felt it was the fairest decision, and with the best interest of Quarter Horse racing in mind, it was the right thing to do.

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