Q-Racing Blog: Derbies Offer Another Option

Increased purses for 3-year-old races are one of the best innovations of the past 10 years.

Derbies offer another option.

My father gave me sage advice when I was a young lad: “Always try to acquire options.” He was right and I’ve passed that on to my sons. I’ll tell my grandkids when they are old enough to understand, but for now they are more interested in dolls and John Deere toy tractors.

Increased money in American Quarter Horse derbies is, without a doubt, one of the best innovations of the past decade. For example, the 2006 All American Derby purse was $406,229 and last year, it was $2,415,084. That’s a $2-million gain.

At Ruidoso Downs, the derby purses rose when futurity purses were capped and money carried over to derby purses.

Trainer Mike Joiner has three horses in the Grade 1, $1,150,000 Rainbow Derby on July 22. Their combined earnings are less than $90,000. The fourth-place finisher in the Rainbow Derby takes $92,000. The winner earns $483,000.

“The big thing about the big derby program is you don’t have to push them as a 2-year-old,” said Joiner while sitting outside his barn the morning after the Rainbow Derby trials. “If you have one that has a few minor issues or whatever, you can stop on him and get it fixed and wait until he’s a 3-year-old.

“Time is a great healer and it’s a great program. These are three horses that are ready to make some money.”

The three Joiner-trained Rainbow Derby finalists are second-fastest qualifier Jess A Painted Wagon, fifth-fastest qualifier Kitty Kiernan and 10th-fastest qualifier C Twister Seis.

R.D. Hubbard’s Jess A Painted Wagon was bought for $35,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale. The PYC Paint Your Wagon-sired filly came into the Rainbow Derby trials off an allowance win and won her Rainbow Derby trial by a game head.

“Jess A Painted Wagon showed a lot of talent last year as a 2-year-old,” said Joiner. “She had some minor issues, so we did some surgery on her and brought her back at 3.

“She has always had a little bit of a problem breaking very sharp and, so, a couple of races ago, I took the blinkers off and it’s really seemed to make a lot of difference. She has really improved and we’re happy for it.

“It’s an unusual thing for a Quarter Horse (to take blinkers off). In that allowance race, the first race I ran her (without the blinkers), I gambled because I had never kicked her away from the gate without blinkers. The first time she kicked away from the gate without blinkers was in the allowance race. It may have been a confidence thing for her.”

Owned by Pat Guthrie, Billy Smith, Paul Blanchard and Andrew Grooms, Kitty Kiernan was a $68,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase. At $52,000 in earnings, she has earned the most of the three Joiner qualifiers. She has been consistent with two wins and five seconds from eight starts. The FDD Dynasty daughter had four-consecutive second-place runs before winning her Rainbow Derby trial by one-half length.

“Kitty Kiernan is just about as solid and honest a little filly that you could ask for,” said Joiner. “She’s going to give you 110-percent every time she goes out there. She’s the kind you want around.”

Randy Smith’s homebred C Twister Seis has also been consistent. The Tres Seis-sired filly has finished in the top-three runners in eight of nine starts and is in peak form. She was third in the $100,000 Mr Jess Perry before winning her Rainbow Derby trial by one-half length.

“C Twister Seis is exactly like Kitty Kiernan,” said Joiner. “I mean an honest hard-trying, hard-knocking filly. She’s going to give you her race every time you load her up. She ran a big race yesterday.”

The seven-figure futurities will always be prime targets for Quarter Horse owners and trainers. But, there are options.

“All of the money is not in the 2-year-old deal,” said Joiner. “We have great money in the 2-year-old deal, but you just don’t have to try to get all you can get as a 2-year-old. You can wait on them.

“Options are always great in horse training.”

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