Q-Racing Blog: Look Forward

Get ready for a great year ahead.

Looking forward to a great year ahead.

This year shows all the indications for some great racing and we don’t know anything about the 2018 2-year-old contingent.

Looking at the final 2017 AQHA Racing National Polls, there is one overriding observation – this is an exceptionally deep group of horses. That gives us the strong possibility for a vintage racing year in 2018.

We must draw a line somewhere, so let’s look at the top-three juveniles in the poll that are now 3-year-old derby horses and then the top-three older horses. Easily, we could go much deeper in each group and make strong arguments for those horses. It smells like a delicious year in 2018.

The top-three newly turned 3-year-olds are Fly Baby Fly, J Fire Up and Eagle Jazz.

Fly Baby Fly and J Fire Up finished in a dead heat atop the final poll and more than one horseman has told me that Eagle Jazz is the 3-year-old to watch.

Fly Baby Fly Partnership’s Fly Baby Fly has it all. She won the All American Futurity, she is extremely well bred and is gorgeous. She had chip-removal surgery after Labor Day’s All American Futurity and should be ready for next summer’s derbies at Ruidoso Downs.

Fly Baby Fly’s five-race career is defined by her dominating All American Futurity victory. The daughter of One Famous Eagle and champion Higher Fire pulled away from Bigg Daddy and showed she is a true 440-yard horse. She won by an expanding 1½ lengths.

Darling Farms, Jaime Gomez and Ernesto Solis’ J Fire Up just wins races, and has won her latest six races. The daughter of Kiddy Up won the $1.7-million Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity (G1), the $904,850 Golden State Million Futurity (G1) and the $385,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity (RG2). The last time she was defeated came on June 18 when she was second by a head in the $960,000 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity (RG1) to another top freshman – the undefeated KVN Corona.

Fly Baby Fly has earned $1,585,200 while J Fire Up has tallied $1,430,411.

Eagle Jazz took a big run at winning all three Grade 1 futurities at Ruidoso Downs last summer and the strapping gelding could be just as dangerous in this summer’s three Ruidoso Downs’ derbies. The son of One Dashing Eagle won the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity (G1) in a dead heat with Uptown Dynasty and the $1 million Rainbow Futurity (G1) by three quarters of a length. He stumbled at the start of his All American Futurity trial and then put on a memorable exhibition. He showed his heart and speed while drawing out to a 4 ½-length win. However, his time was not fast enough to reach the finals.

The All American Futurity trial was his final 2017 out, and he’ll be pointing at the derbies at Ruidoso Downs.

Then there are the older horses.

Jessies First Down and Hold Air Hostage finished on equal terms in the final poll with Heza Dasha Fire third.

Ted Abrams’ homebred Jessies First Down is the defending world champion and made a run at a second title in 2017. He won the $200,000 All American Gold Cup (G1), the $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Championship (yet to be graded) and the $150,000 Zia Park Championship (G1) in successive starts over 440 yards before a third-place finish in the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park (G1). He will race in 2018. However, he could have a reduced schedule. The Abrams family wants to retire him as a sound horse and try team roping with him with the goal of making him a supreme champion.

Darling Farms’ Hold Air Hostage moves up to the older-horse division after dominating the 3-year-olds at Ruidoso Downs. He won the $297,100 Heritage Place Derby (G2) in June and then headed up the mountain. The Apollitical Jess-sired gelding then raced to four-straight wins, all at a quarter mile, at Ruidoso Downs to conclude his 2017 campaign. Hold Air Hostage won the $1.15 million Rainbow Derby (G1) by 1 3/4 lengths and the $1.36 million All American Derby (G1) by 2¼ lengths.

S-Quarter K LLC’s homebred Heza Dasha Fire, the 2015 world champion, is all class and has the stats to prove it. He has started 21 times, all at Los Alamitos, and scored 15 wins, five seconds and earnings of $2,167,987.

Trained by Jose Flores, Heza Dasha Fire made four starts in 2017 with a pair of Grade 1 wins. He won the $100,000 Go Man Go Handicap (G1) and then the $125,000 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Championship (G1) before being upset in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) and settling for second. He was also second in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship (RG1).

My hope is that the leading 3-year-old-and-older horses can meet at the end of the year in one 440-yard race. Fans, including us in the business, deserve it. This looks like the best group – knock on wood – that we’ve seen in years. I want them around in December in the same post parade.

When you’re having a day when things aren’t going quite right, just daydream about upcoming races and smile. 2018 could be good, real good.

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