Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Louisiana Downs Meet Kicks Off Saturday

Louisiana Downs meet kicks off Saturday.

Jockey David Alvarez Back in the Saddle After a Memorable Year   
By Martha Claussen

The Louisiana Downs live racing season gets underway on Saturday, and one of the jockeys to watch will be David Alvarez.

The 37-year-old rider is coming off the best year in his career as he led all North American Quarter Horse jockeys in wins. Alvarez won 122 races, and was one of just four riders to eclipse 100 wins in 2016.  Damian Martinez, also based in Louisiana, won 103 races and Los Alamitos jockeys Cesar De Alba and Jesus Ayala completed the year with 101 victories.

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, Alvarez is the younger brother of jockey Jose Amador Alvarez. David began riding professionally in 2006, and in just ten years, has won 1,071 races and over $12.8 million in purses. Although Texas is home, the Louisiana circuit has fueled his career in recent years. He has won leading rider titles at Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs.  Last year marked his first at Delta Downs and he won it in dominating fashion with 51 victories in the 2016 live racing season, 15 wins ahead of Damian Martinez.

Alvarez is a man of faith and credits his success in the saddle to that and his work ethic.

“Every morning, I put myself in God’s hands and appreciate every opportunity I am given,” said Alvarez.

He has established solid relationships with many horsemen in Texas and Louisiana, including Bobby Martinez, Martin Trejo, Bobby Touchet, Josue Huitron and Jorge Haddad.  His agent, Rhonda Johnson, has been a big part of his success for the past four years.

Some of his top performing mounts include 2015 AQHA Champion Aged Stallion, Open Me A Corona, The Louisiana Cartel and futurity winners Not Pretty Perry, Big Dashing Perry and Magic Black Jet. Alvarez has guided Charles Forbes and Tommy Hays’ Open Me A Corona to six stakes wins, including last month’s $100,000 Louisiana Day Champions Classic at Fair Grounds. Bobby Martinez is the conditioner of Open Me A Corona, and knows Alvarez well.

“He’s one of the best,” said Martinez. “He works hard, is really gutsy and is well-supported by his family. Just an all-around good guy!”

Alvarez and his wife, Wendy, make their home in Ledbetter, Texas and are proud parents to their three children, David, Emily and Ashley.

The votes have been cast for 2016 AQHA Champion Jockey and Alvarez was on the ballot. It is a dream of his to win the coveted title, but he enters 2017 highly satisfied with his achievements.

“Last year, especially the last two months, have been great,” stated Alvarez. “I am very happy for the wins and proud of my accomplishments.”

Going the Distance in Saturday’s Marathon Stakes
By Jennifer Hancock

Saturday’s opening day race card at Louisiana Downs features seven races including two stakes races. Wrangler Racing Ace Jennifer Hancock takes a look at the $15,000 Marathon Stakes, which will be the 4th race on Saturday at the Bossier City track. First post is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST, and the Marathon Stakes has an estimated local post time of 2:12 p.m.

On opening day in early January, the horses’ past performances are going to show quite a few zeroes for 2017 stats. We are going to have to dig for clues and rely on some common 870 handicapping tricks. This field is full of veterans with lifetime starts ranging from 14 to 38 races so we will have plenty of data to give us insight.

Louisiana Downs’ main track is a traditional one-mile oval, which gives a slight advantage to inside post positions in 870-yard races. #1 Apollitical Courage at 5-2 is the morning line favorite, and #3 Eyesa Shoofly Dandy at 7-2 is the second choice. Quick starters can get to the rail from outside posts, but it is more challenging hence #8 Tempting Dashforcash, who comes into the Marathon with a two-race win streak in 870 races being given 4-1 morning line odds.

Trainer Judd Kearl finished 2016 on top – leading the national trainer standing in both wins (128) and earnings ($4.45 million). The Utah native saddles #3 Eyesa Shoofly Dandy in the Marathon Stakes, and this 6-year-old gelding came back strong in December after an almost 10-month layoff in 2016. He ran second behind reigning distance champion Executive Trust in a stakes at Evangeline Downs last month after leading most of the race. Look for the Gold Medal Jess gelding to parlay a favorable post position into a trip to the winner’s circle.

#8 Tempting Dashforcash is a relatively newcomer to the distance game. The 5-year-old Tempting Dash gelding has won his last two starts at the distance after trying the hook for the first time in Albuquerque last summer. He’s been racing in allowance company and is stepping up to play with the big boys in a stakes, but his recent times at Evangeline Downs are quick compared to the field.

Trainer John Stinebaugh got the best and worst draws in the race. In addition to saddling Tempting Dashforcash in the outside slot, he’ll also saddle # 1 Apollitical Courage. Stinebaugh’s runners finished in the money 50 percent of the time in 2016, and he’s got two live ones in the Marathon. Apollitical Courage is making his fifth start in an 870-yard race and is still learning the nuances. He won his first out at the distance, but he bolted the turn in his last race at Zia Park. He’s finished third at the distance twice, and his inside post should help the rail guide him home.
 
# 6 Game Own will need to get a good break and beat the field into the turn to prevent a repeat of his last race where he was forced four wide in the turn and had too much ground to make up racing in stakes company. The 6-year-old Game Patriot gelding has never won at the distance, but his record is impressive with six starts, he’s finished in the money five times.

Jennifer Hancock’s Louisiana Downs’ Marathon Stakes Picks:
#3 Eyesa Shoofly Dandy
#8 Tempting Dashforcash
# 1 Apollitical Courage
# 6 Game Own

Wrangler Racing Aces in January
Visit the Q-Racing page on Facebook or follow the Aces @Q-Racing 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, Louisiana Downs, Sunland Park and Turf Paradise.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqharacing.com.