Q-Racing Blog: Small and Mighty

A little can go a long way.

A little can go a long way.

Find an accepted notion and then you’re certain to discover an exception.

Case in point: The accepted notion is that the large, powerful stables dominate because of the depth coming from the sheer numbers of horses in their barns. Next primetime prospect up.

Then there is trainer Rolando Almanza.

Almanza has an eight-horse stable at Lone Star Park. From those eight horses, he has the fastest qualifiers to the $393,000 Dash For Cash Futurity (G2) and the $214,000 Dash For Cash Derby (G3). That’s impressive, but wait, there’s more. He will also saddle the fifth-fastest qualifier to the 400-yard Dash For Cash Futurity and the third-fastest qualifier to the 440-yard Dash For Cash Derby.

That makes four horses in the futurity and derby. That’s half of his barn.

“We got to (Lone Star Park) a month early and that helped,” said Almanza. “I breezed them over the track. I’m very blessed.”

Almanza is blessed with runners and knows how to get the best out of those runners.

The trainer sends out JA Am I Blue and SC Tornado in the Dash For Cash Futurity.

Irma Vargas’ JA Am I Blue is the top qualifier to the Dash For Cash Futurity, with a :19.725 time.

The son of Jess Louisiana Blue “was a gangly Thoroughbred when I got him,” said Almanza. “I didn’t like him. I thought that maybe next year (as a 3-year-old) or he could be an 870 horse.”

JA Am I Blue changed his trainer’s opinion. He was second to the highly regarded This Is An Eagle in the Sam Houston Futurity (G2).

“He ran lights out at Houston,” said Almanza.

Almanza took him to Retama Park to train for a fall campaign.

“We breezed him at Retama and realized he is really fast. I called the owner and said we should go for the Dash For Cash Futurity,” said Almanza.

The “super well-behaved” colt came through in the Dash For Cash Futurity trials with a 1½-length win and appears ready to take another step forward.

Marco Martinez’s SC Tornado ran a close second in his trial with a :20.088 time.

“He ran a nice race,” said Almanza. “He’s maturing late and needs to mentally mature. He needs to learn to break better.”

SC Tornado has the breeding. He is by Valiant Hero and out of champion and champion producer Spit Curl Diva.

Almanza sends out Eagle Cry and Mia Kine in the Dash For Cash Derby.

Irma Vargas and Giovanni Varga’s Eagle Cry was claimed to $10,000 early in his 2-year-old year without Vargas ever seeing the gelding.

“We claimed him on his breeding,” said Almanza.

Eagle Cry is by One Famous Eagle and out of Checknbac by Check Him Out. Grade 1 stakes winner Checknbac is the dam of Rainbow Derby (G1) third-place finisher Cobalt Creek.

“I thought Eagle Cry had a chance to qualify, maybe seventh or eighth,” said Almanza.

Eagle Cry ran three times from July 15 to August 12 at Retama Park.

“I think he was tired, so he had a month off before the (Dash For Cash Derby) trials,” said Almanza.

“In the derby trials, he broke perfect,” said Almanza.

The gelding went on to a 2-length win in :21.693 to top the seven trials.

Elite Oil Field Services' Mia Kine has the opportunity to earn valuable black type that will enhance her breeding value. The daughter of Dominyun and Mia Jones has three wins from eight starts and comes off a neck win in her trial. She scored the third-fastest qualifying time of :21.915.

“We put some cheater blinkers on her so she could see more and I think that helped her,” said Almanza.

“She’s built right and came back well. She should improve,” said Almanza.

That’s half of his barn. Almanza-trained horses have made a grand total of 35 starts this year. It may be the ultimate example of quality over quantity.

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