Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Louisiana Downs concludes and Remington Park gets rolling.

Owner/breeder Alejandro Moya and trainer Jose Sanchez won the big races at Louisiana Downs.

Impressive Futurity Wins by Moya and Sanchez at Louisiana Downs
By Martha Claussen
The Louisiana Downs 2017 Quarter Horse meet wrapped up on Wednesday, March 22 with the running of the $233,758 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity (G3). Alejandro Moya’s homebred Together To The End was victorious, capping a phenomenal week for the breeder/owner and trainer Jose Sanchez. Last Saturday, the duo was in the winner’s circle with another talented filly, Blue Eyed Fance, who upset a contentious field in the $271,463 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2).

This should be a big year for Sanchez, who will run horses at Sam Houston Race Park when its meet begins on March 31, as well as Delta Downs starting next month.  Sanchez is the brother of Angel Sanchez, a multiple-graded stakes conditioner, whose Grade 2 futurity winners include Ivan James, Just Call Me Carter and Triple Vodka.

The closing day festivities in Bossier City also included the presentation of the end of the meet trophies to the leading trainer, owner and jockey.  Orlando Orozco locked up the training title, with 29 wins, eleven more than Kenneth Roberts, Sr. and Carlos Saldivar.  Orozco, who began his career in 2010, looks to be a major force in Louisiana as he also topped the 2016 Evangeline Downs standings with 19 wins, over Trey Ellis, Lanny Keith and Carlos Saldivar.

The tight battle for leading owner went down to the wire, culminating in a tie between Manuel Alvarez and Julien “Butch” Stevens, III, with eight victories each.  Stevens, who is the current Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) president, is recovering from surgery, and he gratefully acknowledged the well wishes from many horsemen last Saturday at Louisiana Downs. They signed an oversized card and displayed it on the Louisiana Downs live television feed at the Mardi Gras Derby and Futurity trophy presentations!

Damian Martinez won 37 races to clinch the leading jockey title. The 23-year-old was born in Coahuila, Mexico and began riding professionally in 2012. He has been on the Louisiana circuit for one year, finishing second in the standings at Delta Downs, and third last fall at Evangeline Downs. His numbers are reflected strongly in national statistics as in 2016, Martinez won 102 races; finishing second in AQHA standings by wins, to David Alvarez. The two Louisiana leaders were two of only four Quarter Horse jockeys in the country to eclipse 100 wins for the year; California based pilots Cesar DeAlba and Jesus Ayala booted home 101 winners each.

The Louisiana circuit continues at Delta Downs with opening day set for April 21.

Handicapping the Oklahoma Futurity at Remington Park
By Denis Blake
It can be a challenge to handicap 2-year-old races early in the year, as the trials will often features fields loaded with first-time starters and even the finals will match juveniles with only a race or two under their belts. While these races can take some extra work to handicap, the rewards can be big as most people do not take the time to fully research these contests.

A prime example of this is the Grade 3, $525,050 Oklahoma Futurity at Remington Park, which will be contested Saturday, March 25. All 10 finalists have just a single race in their past performances, and all of them ran very well to advance beyond the 17 trials that were held.

So how do we find the top contenders? Of course we can look at each horse’s trial time, pedigree and connections, but don’t overlook the benefits of watching replays for these kinds of races. You can find replays of all 17 trials through Q-Racing Video (https://replays.robertsstream.com/racereplays/cust/qracing/) or the Remington Park website (www.remingtonpark.com). For extra credit, check out the Remington training race replays posted on the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association’s website at www.oqhra.com. All but one of the finalists ran in at least one training race, and watching those replays can give you a better idea of the talent level of every finalist.

Using replays can sometimes help you uncover hidden gems, but for this race they also seem to confirm the status of the fastest qualifier, #3 Ima China Rush. The filly by Rushago broke extremely well from post 10 (which sometimes doesn’t happen with first-time starters as they tend to drift outward away from horses) and then she ran professionally—and fast—all the way to the wire without looking like she was asked for her best. A repeat of that will make her tough to beat, so she’s the pick here despite being the likely favorite.

Another horse with an impressive replay is #7 Lions Express. This colt lugged in badly after breaking from the outside but was already clear of the field and went on to win by nearly a length despite jockey Edwuin Lujan working harder to encourage him to run straight than run fast. You can bet that his connections have worked to address that issue since the trials, and if Lions Express runs straighter with a little more experience now then he could pull a minor upset.

#1 Unconquerable ran a nice race in his trial under all-time leading jockey G.R. Carter Jr. and draws his services again in the final, so the gelding merits respect from that alone.  #10 Tres Of Elegants comes from the powerful Eddie Willis barn and is another who ran a big race in the trials.

Denis Blake’s Top Four Selections:
#3  Ima China Rush
#7  Lions Express
#1  Unconquerable
#10 Tres Of Elegants

Wrangler Racing Aces in March
Visit the Q-Racing page on Facebook or follow the Aces @Q-Racing 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, Sunland Park, Turf Paradise, Remington Park and Sam Houston Race Park, which gets underway on March 31.

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.