All American: Improving the Limits

Hes Limitless has finally gotten serious.

Quarter Racing Journal

Hes Limitless with farrier and co-breeder Denny Bowen, groom Sammy Luna and trainer John Stinebaugh. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Starting off with a victory is a good way to announce your presence.

Winning the first heat on the first day of the August 18-19 trials, Hes Limitless qualified to the $3 million All American Futurity (G1). With Augustin Silva in the irons for John Stinebaugh, the brown gelding by Corona Cartel toured 440 yards in :21.816, which was the second-fastest of the day and held up as the fifth-fastest through 28 heats over two days.

“The horse likes to train,” Stinebaugh said. “And he’s real smart. Hes Limitless is a super-intelligent horse, and his mama was the same way. ‘PJ’ was really, really smart.”

PJ is PJ Chick In Black, whom Stinebaugh saddled to finish sixth in world champion One Dashing Eagle’s 2012 All American Futurity. PJ Chick In Black earned $652,081 while winning the 2012 Ruidoso Futurity (G1). Hes Limitless is one of two winners from three starters out of the champion Desirio mare, who also has a yearling filly by One Famous Eagle named Senorita Sweetness.

Hes Limitless is one of 965 winners by his sire. Corona Cartel is the sport’s leading living sire, with progeny earnings of more than $55.5 million, including 2005 All American Futurity winner Teller Cartel.
 
The gelding was bred by Denny Bowen, Susie Taylor and Jack Smith Farms, the same partnership that raced PJ Chick In Black. The connections offered the horse as an embryo at the 2015 Heritage Place Winter Sale, repurchasing it on a bid of $90,000. They again offered him as a yearling at the 2016 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, and bought him back at $105,000. Bowen is the farrier who shoes Hes Limitless, who races in the name of Jack Smith Farms at Comber, Ontario, which acquired Hes Limitless in entirety in September 2016.

“This horse was raised at Lazy E, and from Day 1, while the colt was growing up, all Butch ever told me was how smart this colt was,” said Stinebaugh, referring to Butch Wise, a member of the AQHA Executive Committee who is the general manager of the ranch at Guthrie, Oklahoma. “Butch was right. We start all our 2-year-olds at Assmussen’s (Asmussen Horse Center) in Laredo, Texas, and they told me how smart he was and how easy he was to get along with, too. So we’ve just kinda of taken it slow with him, day by day, from his schooling races at Retama to when we took him to Remington. We started him once at Remington, he ran second. He was too immature at the time for what we wanted to accomplish, so we backed off, waited and came out here.”

That first start was in the trials to the Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Futurity (RG2) on April 7. The gelding next started in the July 8 trials to Rainbow Futurity (G1), where he finished fourth but was moved to third upon the disqualification for interference by another horse. The trials qualified Hes Limitless to the $100,000 Rainbow Juvenile Stakes on July 23, where in his final start prior to the All American trials he went off at 32-1 odds and finished second to Tough Dynasty 123. With earnings of $24,928, his record now stands at 4-1-2-1.

“He’s my favorite horse,” said his groom Sammy Luna.

“He’s playful and has a lot of personality,” Stinebaugh said. “Sammy likes foolin’ with him. He calls him ‘Junior’ because he’s like a kid, always goofin’ around.”

Goofin’ around caused problems early on.

“He ran fourth the first time we ran him at Ruidoso,” Stinebaugh said. “We were disappointed but he ran a really good race. But he was kinda goofin’ around – like a kid. We ended up in the Rainbow Juvenile, and in the final of that was the first time we’d run his races close together. The horse left there on the lead and looked like he was going to win easy, but he got down close to the grandstand and he started lugging in. When that horse (Tough Dynasty 123) passed him, he went back to running.

“We brought him back to the barn and at that point, I was pretty aggravated at him for not going ahead and trying to finish the race,” the trainer continues. “Twenty minutes later, he’s bucking on the walker and squealing at a horse on the walker next to us. We had a huge conversation about castrating him and after about three days we decided, yeah, let’s do it, so here we are.”

He Limitless was cut 17 days before the All American trials. It made all the difference in the world.

“He’s serious now,” Stinebaugh said. “Before, when he was a stud, he trained good but not really as good as he could have. Since we castrated him, he trains really good. He likes this lifestyle, he likes the care and he feels good. Before we cut him, he ran pretty good just because he’s fast, but after we castrated him, he got really serious. Now he’ll relax and rest in his stall, where before he was always up in the front of the stall, wanting to bite somebody and play around – you know, the way colts are.”

So Hes Limitless finally has his mind on business.

“Since the Futurity trials, he’s already been to the track twice,” Stinebaugh said. “That’s more than most horses, and since we cut him two weeks before the trials, we couldn’t have one thing go wrong. So going into the trials, he was going to the track pretty much every day for three or four days. You have to leave the incision open so it will drain and heal from the inside out, so I couldn’t have it close up or get any swelling. I had to keep him moving.

“Eight or nine days before the trials, I let him gallop out, almost like a breeze so I could know he was OK, let him stretch that out where he’d been trying to draw up and heal,” the trainer said. “That went well. Everything went perfect going into the trials. So then, the last four or five days, we’ve let him freshen up and get ready to run. I stood him (in the gate) on Monday, and probably Thursday or Friday, depending on him, he’ll gallop again and then we’ll see whether we want to take him out again. But he hasn’t backed up any at all and he’s carrying tons of weight, so we’re in pretty good shape. He’s sharp.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

“The year his mama, PJ Chick In Black, ran in the All American, I also had Just Wanna Corona and Krash Cartel,” Stinebaugh said. “I’ve had others in the Futurity, and finished in every position except first or second. We’re trying to improve on that, so we’ll see what happens.”

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