All American: Lights Out Limits

Hes Limitless goes for the All American Derby.

AQHA Media

Hes Limitless is one of three Derby qualifiers to race in last year's All American Futurity. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

If something is worth doing, but you run up against limits and don’t succeed the first time, it might be a good idea to try again.

Hes Limitless is trying again. Along with Hotstepper and Fly Baby Fly, the brown gelding by Corona Cartel is one of three 2017 All American Futurity (G1) finalists to return for the 2018 All American Derby (G1).

“He’s a super-intelligent horse,” says John Stinebaugh, who conditions Hes Limitless for Jack Smith Farms of Comber, Ontario. “That’s why he gets done what he gets done. Plus speed. He has a lot of speed, obviously.”

An earner of $375,580 with a career record of 11-2-6-1, Hes Limitless enters the All American off a second-place effort in his August 19 Derby trial. With Augustin Silva up, Hes Limitless clocked :21.278 while finishing a length behind fastest qualifier Dashnunder Afullmoon. Fellow qualifier Peighnt Your Fate was third in the trial and qualified with the fifth-fastest time.

As a freshman, Hes Limitless ran fourth in Fly Baby Fly’s $3 million All American Futurity and was second to Tough Dynasty 123 in the $100,000 Rainbow Juvenile Stakes. This year, he has been first or second in five of six starts, including running second in Political Attraction’s $801,564 Rainbow Derby (G1) on July 21.

Some changes were necessary to get him to where he is now. The first turned the young stallion into a gelding.

“We castrated the colt last year,” Stinebaugh said. “We cut him in the time between the Rainbow Juvenile and the All American trials. We’d given him the nickname ‘Junior’ because he just wouldn’t grow up. We couldn’t get him to get serious about his job. He wasn’t studdy or acting up or hard to handle or anything like that, but he just wouldn’t lay down and run his race, just focus and get with it. He was running and doing good, but not up to what his potential could be.”

 So what happened when he became a gelding?

“He got right,” Stinebaugh said.

Well, not quite. Junior initiated his sophomore season with a fourth in an April 8 trial to the Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Derby (RG3) and followed with a third in a May 3 allowance.

“We thought we were dead-ready, back in the spring when we took him to Oklahoma,” said Stinebaugh. “We were super-disappointed because his first two races were pretty much clunkers. We were kind of shaking our heads, and then right after we got to Ruidoso, we figured out that he was displacing his soft palate. We fixed his throat and it’s been lights out ever since.”

Hes Limitless was bred by D. Bowen, S. Taylor and Jack Smith Farms, the partnership that raced Hes Limitless’ champion dam. They offered the horse as an embryo at the 2015 Heritage Place Winter Sale, but repurchased the embryo on a bid of $90,000. They next offered the colt as a yearling at the 2016 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, but repurchased Hes Limitless at $105,000. Jack Smith acquired the horse in entirety in September 2016.

The sire of Hes Limitless is the sport’s leading living sire, with progeny earnings of more than $59.1 million, including nine champions, 167 stakes winners and 2005 All American Futurity winner Teller Cartel. The 24-year-old Corona Cartel stands at the Lazy E Ranch at Guthrie, Oklahoma.

The gelding is one of three winners from four starters out of the champion Desirio mare PJ Chick In Black ($652,081). The winner of eight of her first nine starts, “PJ” won the 2012 Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and was sixth in world champion One Dashing Eagle’s All American Futurity (G1). Hes Limitless is from his dam’s first crop of four foals, which also included the stakes-placed Apollitical Jess mare AJ Chick In 15 ($36,097). PJ Chick In Black has one yearling by Apollitical Jess named Political Mayhem.

“PJ had it right from the start,” said Jack Smith’s daughter Susie Smith. “I don’t know whether it was because Junior was a boy or what, but it took him longer to get his head in the game.”

“Junior looks like his mama, ol’ PJ,” Stinebaugh said. “She was a super quarter-miler. In her All American trial here, with no wind, she run :21.03. She could naturally do it. Junior has always been a bridesmaid, so far, so we’re hoping he’ll get it done this time.”

He ought to know what he’s talking about. Since 1985, Stinebaugh has trained the earners of more than $14.4 million, including All American Derby winners Double Down Special in 2010 and The Casanova in 1998. Since 2009, Silva has ridden the earners of more than $10.8 million and more than 590 wins, including Grade 1 scores aboard champion El Duero in the 2012 West Texas Futurity and Jess Move You in this year’s Ruidoso Derby, and Jess Fire Chick to win the Zia Futurity (RG1) earlier this year.

So, John, anything else to say?

Stinebaugh smiled.

“Lights out,” he concluded.