Q-Racing Blog: Training Time

Training races are about education and preparation.

Quarter Racing Journal

Training races are about education and preparation.

Three mornings of training races were held on May 8-10 at Ruidoso Downs and they become more impressive with each passing year. There is a noticeable difference from just five years ago. These races were especially clean.

Back then, there seemed to be more horses breaking in, breaking out, bumping, being fractious in the gate and doing about as much mischief as only a 2-year-old can imagine. Do you remember Blue Ribbon Downs before pari-mutuel racing on a blustery January afternoon?

Not this year. The majority of the horses broke straight and true and the riders used the training race to train their horse into a more mature competitor. That’s the purpose of these races with the trials to the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity (G1) quickly arriving on May 26-27.

Props to the trainers, exercise riders, jockeys and gate crew for a job well done.

Times are important, however remember nobody is making any money on these races. Schooling the horse so the young horse has a positive experience is more important.

The first two days of the training races had beautiful weather. Bright skies and little wind. The third day had these prospects facing wind of at least 20 miles per hour. Therefore, comparing times from the first two days to the third day is fruitless.

After watching the races and talking to several longtime professionals – who had no financial interest in any horse – there was a consistent opinion on one horse. I gave him four stars, my highest rating, and he was the first horse mentioned by my pros.

Haddad Ranch, Inc.’s Droff, who raced in Tuesday’s sixth race, destroyed the field and is a hot prospect. His time of :15.516 was the third-fastest time in the history of the Ruidoso Downs’ training races and the top-two times came out of the same race. Wanna bet there was a strong tailwind that day? Droff had a modest 6-mile-per-hour tailwind.

A son of FDD Dynasty and the Corona Cartel daughter Cindys First CD, Droff hails from the Paul Jones stable, which showed they could have a strong futurity summer at Ruidoso Downs.

Lisa Saumell handles the Jones operation in New Mexico. She said Droff was a bit of a problem child at the start of his training last fall, however kept learning and got top grades in his training race. See for yourself. 

Droff was the fifth horse offered in last year’s Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale and consignor Jorge Haddad wisely bought him back for $22,000.

Saumell said he will start in the Ruidoso Futurity trials.

Team Wood — father Blane and son Trey — had a promising three days.

Terry and Irene Stennett’s U R My Queen was among the Wood-trained horses that stood out.

Racing on the windy Wednesday, U R My Queen started on the lead, was tapped twice by Ricky Ramirez and then geared down crossing the finish line. Her time of :16.098 was the day’s quickest mark.

The daughter of Walk Thru Fire and Thatsa Blazin Chick by Chicks A Blazin, U R My Queen was purchased for $57,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

Let’s give the New Mexico-breds a little love.

Daniel Balderrama’s Zully Dragon Gal didn’t have a very fast time, :16.089, but did everything in good order and had a positive experience. The Zulu Dragon-sired filly drifted out from the inside post position, accelerated when asked and cruised to an easy win. Trainer Cynthia Gonzalez can mark it up as a training race that served its purpose.

Zully Dragon Gal could take on New Mexico-bred competition in the $350,000 (est.) Mountain Top New Mexico-bred Futurity (RG3) and the $400,000 Zia Futurity (RG1) this summer at Ruidoso Downs.

Training races are akin to the NFL draft. The true winners will be determined when they’re playing for money. For now, it’s all talk.

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