Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Big weekends at Arapahoe Park and Pocatello Downs.
By Jonathan Horowitz and Martha Claussen | May 24, 2017
The Success of the 2015 Colorado Quarter Horse Class
By Jonathan Horowitz
As a new horse racing season in Colorado begins at Arapahoe Park, a new search begins for the next Quarter Horse star that will use Colorado as a springboard en route to Quarter Horse racing success around the country.
Sports celebrate the quality of the prospects that are drafted in particular years. For example, the 1984 National Basketball Association Draft included Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, all of whom would become NBA MVPs. If Quarter Horse racing had a draft, the class of 2015 that came out of Arapahoe Park is currently making a mark in the sport.
BH Lisas Boy, who won the 2015 Adequan Arapahoe Derby Challenge in Colorado, captured the 2017 Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) to earn the first berth to the track’s prestigious Champion of Champions (G1), a race that is often a major factor for those who select AQHA’s racing world champion.
Three Olives N Smoke had one of the best seasons ever for a Colorado-bred at Arapahoe Park in 2015 with victories in the Cherry Creek (R) and Rocky Mountain futurities. The bay gelding trained by John Hammes captured a trial to the 2017 Bank of America Remington Championship Challenge (G2) and finished a respectable third in the finals in his quest to qualify for the Bank of America Racing Challenge Championships.
Colorado-bred Toshi Yoshi, the winner of the 2015 Lucille Rowe Derby, took his success outside Colorado. The first time he ran outside of the Centennial State in his 12th lifetime start, the Dana Yoshida-Orozco homebred became a graded stakes winner in the James Isaac Hobbs Stakes (G2) at Zia Park in New Mexico in September 2016.
So the 2017 Quarter Horse stakes program at Arapahoe Park will commence in Sunday’s 300-yard, $15,000 Dash for Speed Stakes with hopes that there will be more stars capable of carrying their success in Colorado around the country.
The state’s most prestigious Quarter Horse races will take place on the final weekend of the season. The inaugural Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse Futurity for 2-year-olds over 400 yards on August 13 will feature a new qualifying process. The fields for that race and the new Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse Derby for 3-year-olds over 400 yards on August 12 will be determined by winners of weekly qualifying races held throughout the season as opposed to time trials. That format is similar to how Los Alamitos determines the field for its prestigious Champion of Champions.
The Arapahoe meet continues through August 13. For more information, visit mihiracing.com.
Utah Pride Shines on Memorial Day at Pocatello Downs
By Martha Claussen
The 2017 Pocatello Downs meet will wrap up on Monday, May 29, with an 11-race card, featuring two Bank of America Racing Challenge stakes.
Trials were conducted on May 14 for the $40,000 Bank of America Pocatello Championship Challenge and Jim Walker’s Time For Jesse Lee set the fastest clocking of :21.132 in the 440-yard heats. The 6-year-old veteran has made 40 career starts, crisscrossing the country from Hialeah Park to Los Alamitos, with plenty of races run in the Intermountain region. He has won 16 races and is closing in on the $200,000 earnings mark. The gelded son of Mr Jesse Lee is conditioned by Monty Arrossa, who has a cherished association with Walker. Arrossa trained Walker’s Idaho-bred Zoomin For Spuds, who won the $600,000 Champion of Champions (G1) last December at Los Alamitos and was honored as the sport’s champion 3-year-old gelding.
James First Affair is one of four finalists trained by Mark Hanson. The 5-year-old son of Ivory James topped Time For Jesse Lee last July at 350-yards at Minidoka Fair and placed fourth in the $59,760 Emerald Downs Championship Challenge on August 21. He will also saddle Sign Of Corona, who made a very nice return to the winner’s circle off an 18-month layoff, winning his trial in :21.175. Interestingly, he also defeated Time For Jesse Lee in the 2015 Bank of America Les Bois Championship Challenge. The New Mexico-bred son of Coronas Fast Dash cannot be overlooked in Monday’s final, and Eddie Aceves opts to ride him over the other Hanson runners.
Magic Moment Blues won the Bitterroot Futurity last June for the Hanson barn. The 4-year-old sired by Carters Cartel has won five of his 13 starts. He notched the fifth-fastest time in trials, but dueled gamely down the lane. RTM Mr Caccia, bred and owned by the Hanson family’s RTM Stables, completes the Hanson quartet. He notched the sixth-fastest qualifying time, but has fared well at the “classic” distance of 440-yards.
The Hadley family will be well-represented with Katies Easy Moves, a 4-year-old son of Maknmoves, who is undefeated in his two Utah starts this year. Trainer Jessica Hadley will give a leg up to her husband, Jordan. Katies Easy Moves ran second in the 400-yard Blane Schvaneveldt Handicap last September at Los Alamitos. The winner will earn a berth to the $330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.
Monday’s card at Pocatello will also feature the final of the $7,500-added BetAmerica Pocatello Maiden Challenge at 350 yards. While opening weekend at Ruidoso Downs may get the lion’s share of attention, it will surely be a memorable Memorial Day in Idaho!
Martha Claussen’s Top Four selections:
#3 Time For Jesse Lee
#2 Sign Of Corona
#6 Katies Easy Moves
#9 James First Affair
Wrangler Racing Aces in May
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, SunRay Park, Sun Downs, Delta Downs, Remington Park and Ruidoso Downs, which opens Friday, May 26.
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.