Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby Ends in Dead Heat

Tough To Bee and Magical Jess can't be separated at the wire.

Q-Racing Journal

Tough To Bee (blue blinkers) and Magical Jess (white blinkers) finished in a dead heat for the win in Saturday's Grade 1, $800,000 Ruidoso Derby. PHOTO: Gay Harris

The photo-finish camera couldn't separate the top two finishers in Saturday's Grade 1, 400-yard Ruidoso Derby, as longshots Tough To Bee (19-1) and Magical Jess (14-1) split the winner's share of the $800,000 purse at Ruidoso Downs.

Tough To Bee was ridden by Raul Ramirez Jr. for Thomas Lipar's Paragon Farms LLC and trainer Trey Wood, and Magical Jess was ridden by Jaime Leos for owner Ugo de la Torre and trainer Mario Loza. Both geldings reached the wire in :19.925 while racing against a reported 11-mph head wind, and their winning margins were a nose from High Plains Perry, who was clocked in :19.927.

The Ruidoso Downs board of stewards needed eight minutes to determine the order of finish from the photo.

Tough To Bee was one of four qualifiers prepped by Wood. The sorrel son of Apollitical Jess, who was bred in Oklahoma by James and Marilyn Helzer, was winning for the fifth time in 10 outs and pushing his earnings to $505,726.

Ricky Ramirez rode both Tough To Bee and High Plains Perry in their trials but chose to ride the latter in the final.

Tough To Bee has won his last three outs, including the April 23 Mr Master Bug Stakes at Remington Park. Lipar acquired Tough To Bee for $20,000 at the 2015 Heritage Place Yearling Sale in Oklahoma City.

"He is just always the same," said Wood. "He deserves this; he's earned it."

Magical Jess was bred in California by Enrique Gonzalez's EG High Desert Farms. Raced in New Mexico and Arizona, the bay One Sweet Jess gelding has won four of eight starts and has banked $421,650.

"He broke a little slow, but he closed the gap," said Leos.

Fastest qualifier Firing Tools finished fourth, a half of a length behind the top three, and was followed by Cartels Candy Machine, Apolltical Chad, Koolnfamous, Mighty B Cartel, One Hot Habit, and Corona Carmelita.

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