Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Triple Crown dreams still alive this weekend.
By Martha Claussen and Jennifer K. Hancock | July 19, 2017
Owner Juan A. Medina Proud of Homebreds
By Martha Claussen
Quarter Horse owner Juan A. Medina would certainly agree with the adage: “Behind every great man is a great woman.” He just might have difficulty dividing the credit between his wife, four daughters and a wonderful mare named Baja Jazz.
Medina is the breeder and owner of Eagle Jazz, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Sunday’s $1 million Rainbow Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs. The gelded son of One Dashing Eagle was the fastest qualifier from the first day of trials. He has won five of his six starts, including the historic dead heat with Uptown Dynasty in the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity on June 11.
Medina owns Eagle Jazz’ dam, Baja Jazz, who also produced graded stakes winner Teller Baja. When he bred her to One Dashing Eagle, he was hopeful it would be a successful cross. Eagle Jazz was foaled at Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma. They sent Medina photos of the newly born colt and he immediately had a very good feeling. Several months later, Eagle Jazz arrived at Medina’s 12,000-acre farm in Zapata, Texas, located 50 miles south of Laredo. Seeing the weanling in person affirmed Medina’s conviction that he had a very special racehorse in the making.
“He had beautiful conformation,” recalled Medina. “Nice straight legs; everything was right. I knew that he had a foundation to be a good runner, and of course, I believed in his mama, who has a big heart!”
Medina rejected several offers to buy the weanling, including one for six figures. Eagle Jazz was never offered at a sale; Medina wanted to race his homebred and selected 2016 AQHA champion trainer Judd Kearl to prepare him for his 2-year-old campaign.
“Judd has been good to me from Day 1,” said Medina. “Whatever he says goes, and he is as excited about Eagle Jazz as I am. After the Ruidoso Futurity, Judd told me he came out of the race in perfect shape; like he had never even run the day before!”
The excitement has been there since winning his debut on March 18 at Remington Park, and of course, Medina will never forget the dead-heat in the Ruidoso Futurity (G1).
“Waiting for the race to go official, I felt like I was having a heart attack, and at 65, that’s not such a good thing,” joked Medina. “However, Melvin (Neugebauer, owner of Uptown Dynasty), is a great guy, so it was a good final for both of us.”
Medina has officially been involved in racing since 2000, but he made a brief foray into the sport decades ago.
“My father in-law got me interested in racing many years ago, but it was not the right timing,” said Medina. “Education is very important to me and I wanted to put each of my four daughters through college.”
That lofty mission was accomplished as each graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and have married. Medina proudly reports that he and his wife, Dolores, have 10 grandchildren.
It will be an exhilarating weekend for Medina, as his other successful homebred daughter of Baja Jazz, Teller Baja, will run in the $1,150,000 Rainbow Derby (G1) on Saturday afternoon. The Teller Cartel filly has already banked $438,422 in her eight starts. Medina reports that Dr. Tommy Hays in Elgin, Texas, performed surgery on Teller Baja last year and they gave her seven months to recover. Also trained by Kearl, she has won both of her starts in 2017.
Medina will be joined by family and friends, and looks forward to both Grade-1 events. However, he is humble when asked about the prospect of Eagle Jazz taking one step closer to the Quarter Horse Triple Crown.
“It’s a new race; all 10 finalists are super horses,” he stated. “To have both Teller Baja and Eagle Jazz running at Ruidoso is pretty much a dream come true.”
Two Continue Triple-Crown Quest in Rainbow Futurity
By Jennifer K. Hancock
In the 58-year history of the All American Futurity, only one horse has accomplished the American Quarter Horse Triple Crown – winning the Grade 1 Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities in one summer. In 1981, Special Effort accomplished the deed by first winning the Kansas Futurity, which was the predecessor of the Ruidoso Futurity.
Unlike 3-year-old Thoroughbreds vying for the Crown, 2-year-old American Quarter Horses have to qualify for each stakes, thus racing a minimum of six times from Memorial Day to Labor Day in the Mountains of New Mexico in their quest.
In 2006, racing fans saw a dead heat in the Ruidoso Futurity, giving two horses a shot at the elusive title. This year, Eagle Jazz and Uptown Dynasty crossed the wire together in a thrilling finish, giving each an opportunity at the $4 million All American Triple-Crown Bonus. Earning the Triple Crown would raise the winning horse’s earnings to about $6.2 million, and the horse would become the all-time leading money earner in Quarter Horse racing history.
Proving that neither is a fluke, the two geldings wowed in the trials, too. Eagle Jazz won the third of 12 trials by a dominating 3 1/4 lengths to set the fastest qualifying time on the first day and overall, and Uptown Dynasty defeated Painted Wine Wagon by a neck in the third of 12 trials to set the fastest time on the second day, which was the second-fastest time overall. For the final, Uptown Dynasty, who is listed as the second choice at 7-2 drew the rail, while Eagle Jazz will break from Post 9 as the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
Reigning AQHA champion trainer Judd Kearl and jockey Rodrigo Vallejo qualified four horses to the final, and Vallejo will stick with No. 9 Eagle Jazz, who has been almost perfect in six lifetime starts. The One Dashing Eagle gelding has won five, and his only blemish came in the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity, where he lost at the wire by a nod of the head. His impressive trial victory and fastest-qualifier status makes him the horse to beat.
No. 10 Wagon Chick V is a perfect 3-for-3 and will have the riding services of 10-time AQHA champion jockey G.R. Carter Jr. The filly will break from the outside and should follow Eagle Jazz right to the wire. The daughter of PYC Paint Your Wagon won her trial by a neck, but she won her previous two starts by daylight. Clinton Crawford is an All American-winning trainer and knows how to prep young horses for the spotlight.
Although Ruidoso runs a mixed meet, the American Quarter Horses have their own racing chute at the New Mexico track so the surface generally plays evenly from inside to out. No. 1 Uptown Dynasty will have no rivals to his inside, but he’s going to need to break quick to ensure a clear path. The Mr Jess Perry gelding loves the Ruidoso atmosphere and has been a perfect 3-for-3 at the track. He ran second in his debut at Houston but hasn’t been beaten since.
At 5-1, No. 5 Lena Cartel is intriguing to me. The Carters Cartel filly will also be saddled by Kearl, but she picks up a new jockey for the first time in her career. Jimmy Brooks will be in the irons in the final. Stakes placed in the Sam Houston Futurity (G2) after being bumped, she won her Rainbow trial by 2 lengths. With two wins and a third in a graded stakes, she has never missed the board.
Wrangler Racing Ace Jennifer Hancock’s Selections:
#9 Eagle Jazz
#10 Wagon Chick V
#1 Uptown Dynasty
#5 Lena Cartel
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, Albuquerque Downs, Retama Park, Canterbury Park and Ruidoso Downs.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.Owner Juan A. Medina Proud of His Two Homebreds
By Martha Claussen