Q-Racing Blog: Surprise Runner

A surprise? Maybe, or maybe not.

Quarter Racing Journal

A surprise? Maybe, or maybe not.

“Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.” If you remember that quote from a popular television show from times of yore, then you’ve been around for a while.

It is still valid in 2018. Especially in the Wes Giles barn at Sunland Park.

Giles trains Zee James, the fastest qualifier to the $396,354 New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) for New Mexico-breds. Don’t scoff that it’s just an early futurity for state-breds. Check out her trial, her career debut.

Owned by breeder Robert Driggers with Ben Lee Ivey, Zee James had a satisfactory start and then made her rivals look like they were having their own race. She extended her stride and pulled out to a 3 3/4-length victory. Her time of :15.002 for 300 yards was easily the top time from the 11 trials. Cat Daddys Lil Girl is the second-fastest qualifier at :15.216. The difference in time equates to about 1 1/2 lengths.

The time is impressive. What might be more impressive is her total domination over her rivals. If she can repeat that performance in the April 7 finals, then the others could be racing for second money.

Did Giles expect that kind of performance?

“No, not really. Her jockey (Adrian Ramos) said all along that she was fast,” said Giles. “We don’t overdo it in the mornings and don’t push them hard this early in the year, so it was a surprise.”

She also surprised the horse players who let her go off at 8-1 odds.

 Zee James. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Zee James was a little slow from the gate in her early training.

“The last time we worked her from the gate (before the trial), she picked up the gate part,” said Giles.

She, obviously, knows the finishing part.

There is just one quirk in her personality. She does not like the pony.

“She wasn’t warming up well with the pony. She was not happy,” said Giles. “I was thinking of scratching her. Then, when I turned her loose, she was fine.”

She does well when there isn’t a lead between her and the pony, just objects when she is attached.

The way she runs, Giles can cope with that minor indiscretion. Just keep her happy. It’s her world.

A daughter of Jesse James Jr, Zee James could continue to race against New Mexico-breds or she could take on open company. She is a half-sister to Gun Battle, an earner of $669,449. He won the 2006 Zia Futurity (RG1) over New Mexico-breds in late July and then came back to finish second by a neck in the All American Futurity (G1) behind No Secrets Here, who loved the muddy track and set a stakes record that still stands. Gun Battle himself went in :20.925, which would’ve won any of the other editions of the race. Zee James has breeding that has displayed success at the highest level.

It is remarkable that Zee James even exists. Her dam, On A Bunny, was foaled in 1990. That means that when the embryo which is Zee James was produced, the mare was 25 years old. She also produced Grade 1 finalist Separate Battle and world champion barrel horse FM Radio.

If Zee James does well in the New Mexican Futurity, it won’t be surprise, and she won’t be 8-1.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.