Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Leon Bard Brimming with Talent for Weekend Features at Retama Park
By Martha Claussen
Texas horseman Leon Bard has been training both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses since 1981. Without a doubt, 2017 is shaping into his best year ever, and his runners will be hard to ignore this weekend at Retama Park.

He is currently the leading trainer at Retama Park and is ranked 14th in the AQHA national standings, with 32 wins. Bard, who finished second at Sam Houston Race Park earlier this year, boasts an impressive stat of 61 percent in the money so far in 2017.

Leon Bard (right) is currently the
leading trainer at Retama Park.
PHOTO: Coady Photography

“We worked hard all winter and knew very early this year that this is the best set of babies we have ever trained,” explained Bard. “The success is based on good, sound horses and our belief in letting the horses tell us when they are ready.”

Bard has qualified three fillies to Saturday’s $435,680 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG3).

T.C. Flack bred and owns Just Another Natural, a daughter of Furyofthewind, a $9,000 TQHA Sale graduate who set the second-fastest qualifying time in trials on July 14. Bard’s first-call rider, Francisco Calderon, will ride the 7-2 second choice.

“She’s a good filly,” said Bard. “She got ‘run over’ in the Sam Houston Juvenile, but has won two races in a row. She really stepped up in her trial win; I would love to win this for T. C.; we are good friends and he has been with me a long time.”

He will also saddle Sugars First Love (8-1), by Tempting Dash, with Ricky Ramirez riding for Sandy and Randy Coleman, and P and J Racing Ltd’s Racing Heroine. Juan Vazquez will pilot the Valiant Hero filly, who will break from the rail at odds of 12-1.

Bard has won two previous editions of the TQHA Sale Futurity, first with Silver Gol in 2005 and 10 years later with Grey Daze.

“It goes to show the quality of the TQHA Yearling Sale, as Grey Daze went for $8,000 and Silver Gol for $16,000,” stated Bard.

Of course, last year, Mary G. Lynne Thompson was the top bidder on This Is An Eagle, a son of One Famous Eagle, bred by Pete Scarmardo. The colt was the sale topper at $100,000 and has not disappointed his connections. He is undefeated with three wins, including a victory in the $483,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and his Rainbow Futurity trial win. Bard trains the Texas-bred, who is currently ranked fifth on the AQHA Racing National Poll for 2-year-olds. Jackie Riddle is looking after This Is An Eagle at Ruidoso Downs.

“He’s doing great; we’re just waiting on the All American (Futurity) trials,” said Bard. “Provided everything goes well, he’ll come back to Texas for the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park.”

On Saturday night, Bard will also saddle three finalists for the $156,600 Retama Park Derby, including fastest qualifier, Pete Scarmardo’s Dash Quick Perry.

“Don’t forget about my Derby horses,” added Bard. “All three are doing well, but Dash Quick Perry will be hard to beat!”

Quality Field to Compete in the $435,680 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2)
By Denis Blake
Stakes action is plentiful this weekend at Retama Park, near San Antonio. On Friday, July 28, Texas-breds will compete in four stakes, with a full field going 400 yards in the $35,000 TQHA Classic Stakes (RG3).

The $435,680 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2), which is the richest race of the Retama Park Quarter Horse meet, will be contested on Saturday evening.

One of the keys to handicapping a futurity is figuring out which of the 2-year-olds are improving and are likely to move forward after the trials. Obviously, all the finalists are in good form, otherwise they wouldn’t have advanced through the trials, but one that appears to really be on the rise is No. 4, Just Another Natural. The Furyofthewind filly started her career with a pair of second-place finishes, including one behind Daddys Blushing, who since then has won the Mountain Top Futurity (RG3) at Ruidoso Downs. In her last two starts, Just Another Natural has visited the winner’s circle both times, including a win with the second-fastest clocking in the trials. Francisco Calderon, who rode all three of the qualifiers for trainer Leon Bard, ends up on this filly, and that’s another positive sign that she’s ready to run big again.

No. 8, Krash Course, the fastest qualifier, is another who seems to be improving with the experience earned in every race. He has two wins and a second in three outings, despite some less-than-perfect starts. So with a clean break, he could be very tough to beat.

No. 9, Globito, is undefeated in two career starts and will be facing his toughest test in this race. His trial time was a bit slower than the top two selections, but he did enough to win and that’s what really counts.

Also, No. 2, Ebrima, could have been claimed for $20,000 in April at Sam Houston, so it’s clear that she has also improved since then and just ran her career-best race in the trials. She has a chance for a minor upset here.

Wrangler Racing Ace Denis Blake’s selections: 4-8-9-2

Wrangler Racing Aces in July
Denis Blake will make an appearance at Retama Park on Saturday, July 29. He will offer fan education assistance throughout the evening and preview the fields for the $435,680 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG3) and the $156,600 Retama Park Derby.

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, Delta Downs, 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.