Wrangler Racing Aces Blog
Dashing for cash at Lone Star Park.
By Martha Claussen and Jennifer K. Hancock | September 27, 2017
Grand Prairie Resident Has Plenty to Root for Saturday Night
By Martha Claussen
Irma Z. Vargas owns the top qualifiers for both the $450,000 Dash For Cash Futurity (G2) and $150,000 Dash For Cash Derby (G3) at Lone Star Park. To make it ever sweeter, Vargas is a resident of Grand Prairie, Texas, and nothing makes her happier than watching her horses run in person!
She will be accompanied by family and friends Saturday night as she cheers for 2-year-old JA Am I Blue and her talented 3-year-old, Eagle Cry.
“There is nothing like having my horses race at home,” said Vargas. “We have traveled to see our horses run in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico, but love it when our family and friends from the metroplex can be there with us.”
Vargas has owned Quarter Horses for 13 years, and has a solid team behind her, including trainer Rolando Almanza. She loves every aspect of racing, beginning with selecting a yearling at a sale, and obviously has an eye for talent. However, there is an amusing story about JA Am I Blue, a colt by Jess Louisiana Blue out of the Strawfly Special mare Teki Cetan.
“Rolando and the team did not like him,” Vargas recalled when the Texas-bred began training.
When asked about the initial impression, Almanza laughed and said that it was true.
“He was a big, gangly colt,” he stated. “I told Irma that I just thought he might grow into his body and make a good 870-yard horse. Heading to Houston (for trials for the Sam Houston Futurity), I still wasn’t convinced. But he ran lights out and I changed my mind. This horse can really run!”
JA Am I Blue ran second to This Is An Eagle in the $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 8, and will be ridden by Jesse Lee Levario as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the Dash For Cash Futurity.
Levario also has the call on Eagle Cry, who is the 5-2 choice in the Dash For Cash Derby. Almanza noted that the Missouri-bred son of One Famous Eagle has “matured really well” and has improved breaking from the gate in his recent efforts.
“The success of our horses would not be possible without the hard work of Rolando, Alfredo Triana, who breaks our babies, and Jerry Meling, our farrier,” added Vargas. “Without their support, we would not be where we are.”
And there is no question where the Vargas family will be Saturday night. A very large and enthusiastic group will be cheering for their horses at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.
“My entire family has a passion for horse racing,” stated Vargas. “It is something special that brings us all together and brings us tremendous joy!”
Talented Field Set for Dash For Cash Derby
By Jennifer K. Hancock
Lone Star Park’s Saturday night card features nine American Quarter Horse sprints, including the $450,000 Dash For Cash Futurity, the $150,000 Dash For Cash Derby and the $45,000 Dash For Cash Juvenile.
Carded as the seventh race, the Dash For Cash Derby will be contested at 440 yards, the classic quarter-mile distance. Dashing Perfection, who was saddled by trainer Jack Brooks and ridden by jockey G.R. Carter Jr., won the 1997 inaugural stakes. This Saturday marks the Derby’s 20th running.
Trials were held September 15 to determine the 10 fastest qualifiers. No. 6, Eagle Cry, won his trial by 2 lengths to set the fastest qualifying time. Listed as the 3-1 second choice in the morning line, Rainbow Futurity runner-up, No. 5 Paint My Pilot, made the most of his nine-month layoff and came back to the track in July to run second in a Rainbow Derby trial, which garnered the gelding a spot in the Corona Cartel Derby, the consolation to the Rainbow Derby. I think the time on the Mountain built up Paint My Pilot’s lungs, because the PYC Paint Your Wagon colt came to Lone Star and won his trial by almost a length after getting bumped at the start.
Last year in the Dash For Cash Futurity, Paint My Pilot endured interference and was placed third. His record at Lone Star includes two firsts and the previously mentioned third from three starts. In nine lifetime starts, the colt has only finished off the board once. I look for Paint My Pilot to turn a quick break into a victory in the Dash For Cash Derby.
From eight starts in 2017, No. 3, Rock About It, has only finished off the board once, and that was in Hold Air Hostage’s Heritage Place Derby in June. The Rock Solid Jess gelding has won half of his sophomore races and has a first and second from two starts at Lone Star Park. He was stakes-placed in the Ruidoso Derby Challenge and qualified to the Heritage Place Derby.
The aforementioned No. 6, Eagle Cry, is a perfect 2-for-2 at the 440-yard distance. The One Famous Eagle gelding ran second in the Retama Park Derby Challenge in August and qualified to the Sam Houston Race Park Derby in April. From six starts this season, the gelding seemed to improve in his past three races, where he finished first, second and third. He began the year with a couple of DQs, but his jockey, Jesse Levario, qualified two and chose the fastest qualifier for the final. My biggest concern is whether the horse overexerted himself with his dominating 2-length win in the trial, where he received a 102 speed index, the highest of his career.
Graded stakes-placed No. 7, Koolnfamous, is the highest money earner in the field with a bankroll that stands at $376,690. The One Famous Eagle gelding qualified to the All American Futurity (G1) and the Ruidoso Derby (G1) and ran second in the Texas Classic Futurity (G1) last year at Lone Star. The fifth-fastest qualifier, Koolnfamous ran second behind Paint My Pilot in the trials. From five races at the distance, the gelding has won twice and placed second once. He likes the Lone Star surface and has never finished worse than second in three starts at the track.
Wrangler Racing Ace Jennifer K. Hancock’s Selections for the Dash For Cash Derby:
#5 Paint My Pilot, #3 Rock About It, #6 Eagle Cry, #7 KoolnFamous
Wrangler Racing Aces in September
Jennifer Hancock will make an appearance at Lone Star Park on Saturday, September 30. She will join track announcer Jim Byers for a pre-race handicapping preview and provide fan education throughout the evening.
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, Prairie Meadows, Lone Star Park and Indiana Grand.
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