Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Maidens no more at Turf Paradise

Matt Fales is the leading Quarter Horse trainer at the current Turf Paradise meet.

Trainer Matthew Fales Enjoys Challenges of All Kinds
By Martha Claussen

Racing is in full swing at Turf Paradise and once again, Matt Fales is on top of the Quarter Horse trainer leaderboard.  Fales began training in 2005 and divides his barn between Turf Paradise and Los Alamitos.  On Sunday, he will saddle Hoot And Holler in the $5,000 Maiden Stakes. Bred and owned by his parents, Carrie and Ralph Fales, the Carters Cartel gelding was the third-fastest qualifier in trials contested on January 15.

“He had some growing pains early in the spring,” Fales said of the now 3-year-old Hoot And Holler. “We enrolled him in the Challenge, but he had bad luck in the (John Deere Juvenile) Futurity.”

Track announcer Robert Fox will have to be on his game as the field also includes Hoot N Holler, a gelded son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon, owned and trained by Ricardo Martinez.

“People have been mixing these horses up all year,” said Fales.

Fales, the Arizona Quarter Horse Racing Association (AQRA) champion trainer honoree is a big fan of the Bank of America Challenge program, and has a nice contingency pointed to trials for the Turf Paradise Challenge stakes in April.

With recent news of the 2017 Bank of America Challenge Championships returning to Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, Fales wants organizers to consider Turf Paradise for a future edition of the championships.

“It would be awesome to have it at Turf Paradise,” he said. “Our weather is perfect; we could organize a really big golf tournament and we have plenty of restaurants and hotels in the area.”

Fales got a few laughs at the 2016 Bank of America Challenge Owner Recognition Brunch when the finalists for the Andreni Distance Challenge were announced.  He and his parents were the connections behind Mickey Ward. As he approached the stage, he was asked if he preferred to be called “Matthew” or “Matt.” Fales replied ‘just call me “Big Matt”.

“I only said that because Dave Weaver (of TVG) had called me that on-air when he was covering on of my races,” said Fales.  “Maybe Dave and I were the only two people in the room that got that inside joke!”

Maybe a few more as Fales has a great personality as well as a passion for Quarter Horse racing!

Maidens Benefit from Trial Experience Sunday at Turf Paradise
By Jennifer Hancock

Saturday’s eight-race card at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona, features races for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Wrangler Racing Ace Jennifer Hancock takes a look at the $5,000 Maiden, which will be contested at 300 yards. The race is for 3-year-olds and is the second race, with an estimated local post time of 1:10 p.m.

Trials were contested January 15 so handicappers have a glimpse of the field’s time at the distance and over the race surface. Unlike a regular maiden race, you will find winners from the trials, and maybe after getting a taste of that experience, a horse will want to repeat. In this race, there are a few horses that got a late start on their racing careers while many of the starters had a full freshman campaign and failed to reach the winner’s circle. As with all Quarter Horse handicapping, I encourage my seminar attendees to read the trip notes. The notes give some details that can’t be gleamed just from reading the numbers. I’ve found “maidens” who have no race wins listed in their record, but looking at the race calls and finish positions, I’ll find a horse that had issues and got DQed after crossing the finish line first. With a young group of horses and a short race, it’s always a good idea to look for quick starters and to make sure that neighbor horses don’t have a habit of causing chaos at the break.

#7 Mi Favorito ran fifth in his first out after a slow break in November and improved to second in his trial. Bred in California by Dr. Steve Burns, who has been the Nutrena Racing Challenge Leading Breeder and recently received the AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award, Mi Favorito is listed at 12-1 in the morning line and will reward his backers if he continues his improvement.

#3 Royal Quick Senator found the winner’s circle in his trial, which was his seventh lifetime start. He’s the fastest qualifier in the final. The Oklahoma-bred gelding finished third two times in 2016 after leading in those races. Owned and trained by Laurie Ferguson, Royal Quick Senator was well travelled in 2016 and raced at three tracks. He’s had some trouble in his past races but appears to like racing in the winter in Arizona.
#9 Dejonaro is hard to bet against and earns the morning line favorite tag with an impressive record. With two lifetime starts, the Dejon gelding has never finished off the board. He ran third in his first out, which came in December at Turf Paradise, and easily won his January trial after a slow break.

#5 Hoot And Holler (not to be confused with #8 Hoot N Hollar – see one’s spelled with an e and other with an a) raced in stakes company at Los Alamitos last fall. The Matthew Fales trainee is the highest earner in the field and ran second in his trial and is the third-fastest qualifier.

Jennifer Hancock’s Turf Paradise Maiden Picks:
#7 Mi Favorito, #3 Royal Quick Senator, #9 Dejonaro, #5 Hoot And Holler 

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.