Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Accomplished Jockey, and the fastest qualifier to the Lucille Rowe Derby.

Accomplished jockey, and the fastest qualifier to the Lucille Rowe Derby

Age is No Barrier for Jockey John Hamilton
By Martha Claussen

How many professional athletes are in their prime in their 50s? Certainly, none in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Soccer. But Quarter Horse jockey John Hamilton continues to defy the odds and is showing his best stuff at 53!

Hamilton, who was born in Baytown, Texas, and began riding professionally in 1984, has ridden 13,688 races, with a record of 1,820 wins on mounts that have earned more than $25 million. Over the years, he was solid in Texas, with stakes wins at Los Alamitos, but now chooses to ride exclusively in Louisiana. The state's lucrative Quarter Horse program offers 146 days of racing at Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs.

Hamilton was the leading rider at each of the four tracks in 2014, besting some notable veterans including Gilbert Ortiz, Donald Watson and Alfonso Lujan, as well as the young up and coming riders such as Eddie Sanchez, Damian Martinez and Everardo Rodriguez.

"It is all about the preparation," explained Hamilton. "I work hard in the mornings and know my horses, the gate crew, my routine on race day. My wife is with me, we cook at home and I can control the distractions. "

At the end of 2015, Hamilton underwent shoulder surgery and put 110 percent into his rehabilitation. His doctors cleared him to return to the saddle in April, but getting his timing back was much more difficult than he had anticipated. The wins went to other riders, with David Alvarez taking his first Delta Downs riding title.

Hamilton kept his chin up, had a great meet at Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs to complete 2016 with 84 wins. He came out of the starting gate full force this year in the 46-day Delta Downs racing season. He never lost momentum, winning 59 races, 24 more than runner-up Noe Castaneda.

It was an emotional night for Hamilton last Saturday as he accepted his leading jockey award, the fifth time he was honored at Delta Downs. He thanked his wife, Sharon, for her love and support and trainer Michael Taylor for putting him on great mounts. He also gave credit to the grooms and starting-gate workers for their tireless efforts.

“I get on a horse for 18 seconds and get the glory, but there are a lot more people responsible for my success,” noted Hamilton.

“Hambone,” as he is affectionately known around the oval, celebrated his 53rd birthday last month, but retirement is nowhere on his horizon. Years ago, at Sam Houston Race Park, another 50-plus rider, James “Diamond” Brooks, was winning more races than any of the young jockeys. Hamilton got a lot of laughs when he told Brooks that “ever since he got his AARP card, he’s been on fire!”

Same could be said about Hamilton, but for now, horsemen and fans just add their congratulations on a job well done!

Improving Shes My Foose Takes on Top Colorado-Bred Derby
By Jonathan Horowitz

Shes My Foose has shown significant improvement from a 2-year-old in 2016 to a 3-year-old in 2017 and has a chance to vault to the top of the Colorado-bred Quarter Horse ranks as the fastest qualifier in Saturday’s Lucille Rowe Derby at Arapahoe Park.

The bay filly was winless in four starts in 2016. However, she enters the top derby for Colorado-breds 2-for-2 in 2017, with a maiden victory on June 3 and the fastest Lucille Rowe Derby trial win on June 30 at Arapahoe Park. Tanner Thedford, Shes My Foose’s sixth jockey in six races, piloted the Jose Barron trainee to the 350-yard win in the first of three trials in 17.861 seconds. Shes My Foose will break from the rail as part of a field of 10 in Saturday’s $64,500 finals. She is the half-sister to 2012 Lucille Rowe Derby winner Baby I Like It, who is also out of Baby La Jolla.

The Lucille Rowe Derby field also includes the top two finishers in Arapahoe Park’s 2017 Dolls Prodigy Stakes on June 4 where Iza Captain defeated Perkin Desire by a nose. Iza Captain subsequently finished third to Shes My Foose in the Lucille Rowe Derby trials, although the Julio Corral trainee, who will have Alejandro Luna aboard in the finals, was promoted to second via disqualification following a troubled trip. 

Perkin Desire, who will have Raul Gutierrez in the saddle for trainer Roberto Gomez, went on to win a Lucille Rowe Derby trial by 1 1/4 lengths in the second-fastest qualifying time of 17.866 seconds.

Girl With Guns was the other trial winner in 17.909 seconds. The bay filly, who is conditioned by Jose Chavez and will be ridden by Eugenio Navarette, took a big step forward in the trials, as it was her first career victory in her seventh lifetime start.

In My Dust and Rarest Ivory from the Mile High Futurity, Late N Dirty from the Cherry Creek Futurity, and Go Streak Lightning from the Rocky Mountain Futurity were futurity finalists at Arapahoe Park in 2016 who are part of the field for the Lucille Rowe Derby.  Saturday’s co-feature will be the $74,425 Cherry Creek Futurity, the richest race for 2-year-old Colorado-breds.

Wrangler Racing Ace Jonathan Horowitz’s Top-Four Selections: 
Shes My Foose
Iza Captain
Perkin Desire
Rarest Ivory

Wrangler Racing Aces in July
Visit the @AQHARacing page on Facebook or follow the Aces 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, Arapahoe Park, The Downs at Albuquerque, Retama Park and Ruidoso Downs.

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.aqha.com/racing.