Q-Racing Blog: The Little Pro

Where do you go, when you get the right mix?

Where do you go, when you get the right mix?

Keith Nelleson’s 2-year-old KVN Corona is fast and has readily learned his job as a racehorse. He already has a Grade 1 win in the $1-million Ed Burke Futurity and will be the strong choice in the $400,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity (G2) on October 7.

KVN Corona is the top-ranked colt in the AQHA Racing National Poll and the fourth-ranked overall 2-year-old.

This all adds up to KVN Corona being well-positioned for championship honors with only three months left in the year.

“This is the key, the Breeders Futurity has three weeks between the trials and the finals, the Two Million has three weeks between trials and finals while the Golden State only has two weeks between the trials and finals,” said trainer Paul Jones. “It’s hard to run in all three of them and it’s also tough to pass up a million-dollar race. We decided to run in the Breeders Futurity because we’re already in it and if we win it, we think we have a good chance to clinch champion 2-year-old colt.

“Being a colt, he has a career in the future as a stallion and if he can win it, then it would put a lot of merit on his record. We’ll take our shot in this race and we’ll most probably pass on the Golden State because there are only two weeks between trials and finals. Then we’ll have a very nice horse coming into the trials of the Two Million. So, that’s the plan,” Jones explained.

KVN Corona started his racing lessons with trainer Mike Joiner in New Mexico and he had a couple of works before he shipped to Jones at Los Alamitos.

“When the colt came to me, he went good. Mike did a good job with him,” said Jones.

The son of Corona Cartel quickly stepped up.

“The colt has been a real professional from Day 1,” said Jones. “I call him ‘The Little Pro’ because he just does everything right. Not only does he have talent, but like I said, he does everything right – right attitude, right disposition. I couldn’t ask anything more of him. He goes into the gate, he stands good, he runs good. He’s good around the barn. He’s just a real pleasure to have.

“You never know until you find out for yourself. The first time we worked him, he really impressed us. We started him in a maiden race and he didn’t let us down. He’s been getting better and better from there.”

After taking that Los Alamitos 300-yard maiden race by 1 1/4 lengths, KVN Corona took his Ed Burke Futurity trial by one-half length as the 1-5 favorite. He was the second-fastest qualifier with a :17.657 mark for the 350 yards under Ramon Sanchez.

A $140,000 Ruidoso Select Sale Yearling purchase from McColee Land and Livestock LLC (Nellesen is part owner of McColee), KVN Corona moved onto the list of championship prospects when he fought to a head win in the Ed Burke Futurity as the 19-10 favorite.

“After the Ed Burke, it was just a matter of where do we go from here. There is not always a right or wrong answer with a horse this nice,” said Jones. “It’s hard to get a horse this nice, but once you get one the question is how you manage them.

“We decided to keep him in training and keep him fit. The plan was to run him in the Ed Burke and then the Breeders. Originally, we were going to run him in the Breeders trials just as a prep for the Golden State Million trials. He was super-impressive in the Breeders trials after quite a long time between races.

“He was the fastest qualifier and Ramon had his feet in the dashboard and never really asked the horse to run.”

KVN Corona will race in the Breeders Futurity and then point to the Los Alamitos Two Million trials on November 26.

KVN Corona will race next year and, of course, long-term plans include a breeding career.

“He has been a sound colt, he has a good mind and a good attitude,” said Jones. “He’s a son of Corona Cartel and sons of Corona Cartel have done well. That bloodline is strong and it carries on. His future as a stallion could be huge. The stallion career is much larger than the racing career.”

Now it is one race at a time, one step at a time. He has passed every test with his 4-for-4 record and $411,450 in earnings.

“He’s a star. Like I said, I call him ‘The Little Pro’ because he just does everything right,” said Jones. “I love to get a horse like him, he makes everybody look good. The trainer is only as good as his horse; the jockey is only as good as his horse. You can’t make a Volkswagon win the Indy 500.”

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