Q-Racing Blog: Gearing Up for 2017

You can always have dreams for a great year.

Quarter Racing Journal

You can always have dreams for a great year.

Trainer Judd Kearl had a monumental year in 2016. He was honored as champion trainer, his horses earned $4.6 million, he conditioned three champions, won five Grade 1 stakes among his 22 stakes wins and sent out 129 winners from 474 starters.

“You can never have expectations,” said Kearl of his 2016 run. “You have dreams.”

Now he is gearing up for 2017. He has a stable at Remington Park and will have a string at Sam Houston Race Park when that meet starts on March 31. Many of his horses will then be headed to Ruidoso Downs for the summer.

Kearl was the money man at Ruidoso Downs last summer when he horses earned $2.4 million with a 30-percent winning percentage and 53-percent of his starters were among the top-three finishers. Each of his three champions started at Ruidoso Downs.

Life has been very, very good for the Kearl team.

Kearl trained 2016 world champion Jessies First Down and his 2016 3-year-old division had remarkable depth.

“We have a bunch of nice 2-year-olds, but not as much with the 3-year-olds as last year,” said Kearl.

Enrique Carrion’s EC Jet One, the 2016 champion 3-year-old, has been retired to stud and standing at Granada Farm in Wheelock, Texas. The colt won the $2.4-million All American Derby (G1) and went five-for-five in 2016 to secure his championship.

While EC Jet One has found a new job, Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down, Bennie and Teresa Jeter’s champion 3-year-old filly Volcom Bay and Wyok Ranch LLC’s $1.2-million Rainbow Derby (G1) winner Valiant Rogue are set to go in 2017.

Valiant Rogue drew the rail in the $61,800 Mighty Deck Three Stakes for Oklahoma-breds on Sunday, March 12 at Remington Park.

Jessies First Down, a gelding by FDD Dynasty, secured his world title with three-consecutive 440-yard wins in his final three 2016 starts. He took the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap (G1) at Lone Star Park, the $150,000 Zia Park Championship (G1) and then the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park (G1). That was his most recent start on December 31. He is now at the farm in New Waverly, Texas.

“We plan on starting him in the (Bank of America Sam Houston Championship) Challenge (G2, trials on March 31) and then go to the Remington Park Championship,” said Kearl.

He’ll then go to Ruidoso Downs. Last summer at the mountain track, he was a stunning winner of a 400-yard allowance race in :19.25 and was second in the $194,885 All American Gold Cup (G1). The Gold Cup looks like his goal at Ruidoso Downs this summer.

“He’s just nice a quiet, nice horse. A kid could lead him around,” said Kearl. “He’ll cock a leg in the paddock, but when the jockey gets on, he’s all business. The big thing is that he is sound.”

Volcom Bay is currently in the breeding business and could be back in the Kearl barn this month. Embryos are being collected by One Famous Eagle and Apollitical Blood. One of those embryos could be offered in the first Select Foal in Utero Sale at Ruidoso on August 19.

A daughter of Volcom, Volcom Bay was second to Jess Good Candy in the $1-million Ruidoso Derby (G1) and set the fastest-qualifying time to the All American Derby before finishing fourth in the derby after a troubled start.

The filly may start at Remington Park.

Valiant Rogue could follow the Oklahoma-bred path at Remington Park. He may run in the $100,000 Leo Stakes (G1) on April 1 and Kearl would like to run him in a Challenge race.

There is a good chance he could go to Prairie Meadows this summer. If he went to Ruidoso Downs, he would probably be pointing at the same races as Jessies First Down.

Kearl will be starting a few 2-year-olds at Remington Park and more at Sam Houston before heading to Ruidoso. “We have more quality in our babies (than last year),” said Kearl.

Last year was sensational for Kearl. It may be too much to ask to repeat in 2017, but he can dream.

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