Q-Racing Blog: Halfway Home

It's mid-year, let's take a look at our race leaders.

It's mid-year, let's take a look at our race leaders.

Six months down and six months to go. We are halfway to the 2017 championship finish line. But where exactly are we? Let’s rundown the Top 5 2-year-olds and older horses in the national AQHA poll.

Two-Year-Olds

1-Eagle Jazz

Juan Medina’s homebred Eagle Jazz is a strong, gleaming sorrel gelding that has nearly won two major races and has led the poll for three weeks. He lost a head-bob at the finish of the $913,850 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity (RG2) in April. He then ran a superlative race in the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity (G1). It was even closer than the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity. The One Dashing Eagle gelding from the Judd Kearl barn fell to his knees at the start. Fortunately, while looking like a beaten horse, he still had a racing path. He made up 1 length and then probably 2 lengths to finish in a dead heat for the win with fourth-ranked Uptown Dynasty. We expect to see him again, as he is entered in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) trials.

2-Nymeria

Alfredo Garza’s Nymeria, a filly by Bigtime Favorite, got an excellent start and then showed her grit while racing to a game neck win in the $1,154,000 Heritage Place Futurity (G1). It was the second consecutive win for trainer Josue Ponce, who won the 2016 running with Duponte, Nymeria’s half brother. Nymeria was sent off at 9-1 odds after winning her maiden at first asking and then finishing second by a head in her Heritage Place Futurity trial.

3-KVN Corona

Leading the West Coast contingent in the poll is Keith Nelleson’s KVN Corona, winner of the $1 million Ed Burke Million Futurity (G1). Like many outstanding young 2-year-olds, we may not have seen the best from KVN Corona – even though he impressed in the Ed Burke. KVN Corona, a $140,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, raised his record to 3-for-3 with the Ed Burke win at 19-10 odds. The Paul Jones-trained colt broke cleanly and then powered his way to the head win under a smart ride from Ramon Sanchez. He raced the 350 yards in :17.575.

4-Uptown Dynasty

Melvin Neugebaurer’s Uptown Dynasty brings his lunch box and goes to work in Grade 1 futurities. In the Ruidoso Futurity, he did his job. The Mr Jess Perry-sired gelding was on the lead and finished on even terms with Eagle Jazz at the finish line. After finishing second in a maiden race at Sam Houston Race Park, Uptown Dynasty has joined the Wes Giles barn at Ruidoso Downs and has two wins from two starts. He will be back to work in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) trials.

5-This Is An Eagle

Mary Thompson’s This Is An Eagle won the $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) over 330 yards and should move forward at longer distances. He ran away from his rivals in the Sam Houston Futurity to score the one-half-length win for trainer Leon Bard. He is now in Jackie Riddle’s barn at Ruidoso Downs and he will have the opportunity to race longer distances. He is entered in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) trials.


3-Year-Old and Older Horses

1-Zoomin Effortlessly

Telesforo Perrett’s Zoomin Effortlessly has been right there in each of his two 2017 starts and on top of the poll for four weeks. The Zoomin For Bux-sired gelding, with no apparent excuses, was outrun to the wire in the $100,000 Leo Stakes (G1) by Bodacious Eagle. Zoomin For Bux was making his seasonal debut. If anything, that out helped him in his next start, the $250,000 Remington Park Championship (G1). The Edelmiro Carrizales-trained Zoomin Effortlessly battled with a dead game Jessies First Down over 440 yards with Zoomin Effortlessly gaining the head victory.

2-Jessies First Down

Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down is chasing his second consecutive world championship and is in the midst of the tussle. The gelded son of FDD Dynasty made an impressive seasonal debut when he won his trial to the $103,320 Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G2) by a handy 1 3/4 lengths. He then took the Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge by a neck, although he was never pushed by jockey Rodrigo Vallejo. He set a new track record of :21.214 for 440 yards in the race before the Judd Kearl-trained gelding finished a head behind Zoomin Effortlessly in the Remington Park Championship.

3-Bodacious Eagle

Johnny Trotter’s Bodacious Eagle is 2-for-2 this year with each win coming in a Remington Park stakes race. Trainer Trey Wood sent Bodacious Eagle out in the $50,000 Eastex Stakes (G2) and he dominated from the outside post position, cruising to a 1 1/2-length win. The gelding by One Famous Eagle returned in the $100,000 Leo Stakes (G1). Once again, he drew an outside post position, number nine in a 10-horse field. He hooked up with Zoomin Effortlessly and proved best in the final strides of the 400-yard test to win by a neck. Bodacious Eagle is entered in the $50,000 Higheasterjet Handicap (G3) on July 1 at Ruidoso Downs and has the outside post position in the 10-horse field.

4-Tough To Bee

Paragon Farms’ Tough To Bee, another member of the Wood stable, is unbeaten from three starts this year and was involved in the celebrated dead heat in the $800,000 Ruidoso Derby (G1). In the amazing finish, Tough To Bee and Magical Jess were timed in :19.925 for 400 yards, while third-place finisher High Plains Perry was clocked in :19.927. The Apollitical Jess-sired Tough To Bee came into the Ruidoso Derby off a one-half-length win over Oklahoma-breds in the $61,800 Mr Master Bug Stakes (R) and won his Ruidoso Derby trial by one-half length. Jockey Ricky Ramirez qualified four horses, all trained by Wood, for the Ruidoso Derby and chose to ride Tough To Bee.

5-BH Lisas Boy

The Bill Hoburg-bred, -owned and -trained BH Lisas Boy is the highest-ranked West Coast horse in the poll. He has made four starts this year – all at Los Alamitos – and his definitive win came in the $150,900 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1). He was then trained by John Cooper. In the 400-yard Winter Championship, the gelding by Mighty Invictus prevailed in the final strides over Zoomin For Spuds to win by one-half length. His other 2017 wins include the $25,000 Kaweah Bar Handicap (G3) and his Vessels Maturity trial. He is the fastest qualifier to the $162,600 Vessels Maturity (G1) to be run on July 2.

The year is half over on the calendar, but not in American Quarter Horse racing. There are still 22 Grade 1 stakes to be contested. Only nine Grade 1 races have been run. Championship opportunities abound in the next six months.

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.