All American: Eliciting the Derby

Juan Aleman goes for his second win in the All American Derby.

Quarter Racing Journal

Juan Aleman and his third-generation trainee, Elicity. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

It’s always a good idea to know what you’re doing. Or at least, what you’re dealing with.

Juan Aleman will send out Esgar Ramirez on Elicity in Sunday’s $1.3 million All American Derby (G1). If nothing else, Aleman knows the sorrel filly top and bottom – literally. The trainer has conditioned generations on both sides of Elicity’s family tree, including her sire, world champion Apollitical Jess, and her dam, the champion Walk Thru Fire mare Flame N Flash, and Apollitical Jess' champion dam, Apollitical Time.

“Elicity is great around the barn,” the trainer says. “She eats everything we give her, she doesn’t pace her stall, she likes it up here.”

For that matter, Aleman also trained the champion Apollitical Jess stallion Apollitical Blood to win the 2015 All American Derby. Aleman has trained the earners of more than $13.7 million, while Ramirez has ridden the earners of more than $35.5 million. Ramirez had an All American double last year, winning the Derby with EC Jet One and the Futurity with Imperial Eagle, and won the 2006 All American Derby with Arealstraitheart and the 2010 All American Futurity (G1) with Mr Piloto.

Elicity was bred by Robert H. Williams of Vernal, Utah, who has bred the earners of more than $657,000, including Restricted Grade 1 winner Noble Risky Fortune. Williams raced Elicity’s dam, Flame N Flash, to earn $439,151 on the track, where she was the 2012 champion 3-year-old filly. A daughter of the stakes-winning Shirley’s Champion (TB) mare Oh La Proud, Flame N Flash is a half-sister to champions Hawkish and Hawkinson.

Elicity is one of 38 stakes winners by Apollitical Jess, who has sired the earners of more than $13.3 million, including All American Derby fastest qualifier Hold Air Hostage. The filly was acquired in September 2016 by Papas Place LLC, comprising Audie and Kaye Williams of Silt, Colorado, who also now own Flame N Flash.

With a career record of 11-3(1)-5(1)-1 and earnings of $73,195, Elicity has placed in nine of 11 career starts, and hasn’t been worse than second in four starts this year. The filly was eighth in last year’s $500,000 All American Juvenile Stakes, and then returned to the West Coast, where she ran second carrying top weight of 126 pounds in the Bobby Angel Handicap.

Elicity opened her sophomore campaign with a nose win in a May 28 allowance race at Los Alamitos. She then shipped to Ruidoso, where in her July 9 trial to the Rainbow Derby (G1), she ran second to Lethal Class, who in 2016 finished third in A Revenant’s Rainbow Futurity (G1). Elicity came back to score by half a length in the July 22 Corona Cartel Derby, the $100,000 consolation for the Rainbow Derby.

“She’s been doing great,” Aleman says. “She did well here last year. We gave her the winter off back home in California; brought her back and run her once in an allowance race at Los Alamitos. She won that race, came up here and qualified for the Corona Cartel and won that deal. Then she came right back, qualified for the All American Derby and came back great from that, so she’s doing well and we’re just hoping for the best on Sunday.”

Weather should not be a factor.

“It was a muddy, sloppy track for the Derby trials,” said the Southern California trainer. “And it was raining. It was one of those days that if you’re not going to be able to take the weather here in Ruidoso, then don’t come. We’ve been coming here for six years now, so we’re used to it. But we’ve done well here, been fortunate to qualify every year here for some big races. So it was a real muddy track that day and she was in the toughest trial, with Hold Air Hostage. I said, ‘Well, if we could run second to that horse, we’d might a chance.’ When Hold Air Hostage put up the fastest qualifying time, I knew we had a shot even though we got beat by 2 or 3 lengths.”

For the record, it was 3 1/4 lengths. Clocking :21.626, Elicity qualified ninth-fastest.

“Sur’nuff, she was able to hold on and get in the final.”

Aleman gives his horses a week off after a race. Since the trials, he has ponied her and stood her in the gate on Tuesday.

“We’ll probably pony her one more time before Sunday,” he says. “She’s a hot filly. I trained her mother, and she acts a little bit like her mom. But when it’s time for business, she’s all business. Elicity’s very professional. Now, she needs to settle in the gate just a little bit. Once she’s goes in, she dances just a little bit, but give her a couple seconds and she concentrates, looks straight down the track and is ready to go.

“She pulled up great from the trials, she’s as sound as can be, she’s been on her feed, so we’re just hoping for the best on Sunday,” Aleman concludes. “I wish everybody the best. I hope everybody gets a good break out of the gate, I hope it’s a good, clean race and may the best horse win.”

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