Will Rogers Hosts Challenge Day

Oklahoma track hosts several regional Challenge finals.

Q-Racing Journal

Garza Laurel Partnership’s sharp Political Debut heads the $27,500 John Deere Will Rogers Challenge on a Sunday afternoon dedicated to Bank of American Challenge regional races at Will Rogers Downs.

The 350-yard John Deere Will Rogers Juvenile Challenge is joined by the $32,500 Adequan Will Rogers Derby Challenge and the $30,000 Red Cell Will Rogers Distance Challenge.

The winners of these races earn a berth in their respective finals during the Bank of America Challenge Championships on October 18 at Prairie Meadows.

Political Debut (Apollitical Jess-Sizzling Lola by First Down Dash) has found her top form since winning her maiden by 1 ¼ lengths back in June at Retama Park. She returned to finish second by a nose in a late July non-qualifying trial race before starting in the John Deere Will Rogers Juvenile Challenge trials on September 14.

The Gerry McLean-trained filly responded with the best performance of her career. She surged to win by one-half length and the :17.851 time for 350 yards was the quickest mark from three trials.

Reliance Ranches LLC’s Heza Valiant Hero (Valiant Hero-Blissful Beth by Heza Fast Man) also showed peak form in the trials. He won his maiden in his sixth start with a length trial score with the second-fastest time of :17.905. He benefitted from class relief after making his three previous starts in the trials to the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities at Ruidoso Downs.

In the 400-yard Adequan Will Rogers Derby Challenge trials, the Rodrigo Covarrubias-owned and -trained Spit N Salt (Spit Curl Jess-Salty And Steady (TB) by Salt Lake (TB)) has proven to be an excellent $6,250 claim three starts ago in May at Remington Park. He came back on July 2 to finish second by a head in a $14,600 conditioned allowance race at Fair Meadows and then made his next appearance in the Adequan Will Rogers Derby Challenge trials.

Spit N Salt stepped up in his trial as the 3-2 favorite to win by three parts of a length with the quickest time of :19.870 for the 400 yards in the first of two trials.

Rafter SM Ranches’ homebred SM Chicks N Garters (Country Chicks Man-Bullions N Garters by Bully Bullion) won the other trial and could be favored with his stakes experience. The third-place finisher in last year’s $384,750 Black Gold Futurity Championship (RG3), SM Chicks N Garters returned this year for trainer Clinton Crawford to finish fourth in the $50,000 Jack Brooks Stakes on May 25.

SM Chicks N Garters was then off until winning his Adequan Will Rogers Derby Challenge trial by a neck with the second-fastest time of :19.918.

In the 870-yard Red Cell Will Rogers Distance Challenge, Salvador Pimienta’s Emperor Valerian (Heza Fast Dash-Sheza Lil Val by Dashing Val) has found an excellent spot to earn a trip to Prairie Meadows.

The fifth-place runner in last year’s $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1), Emperor Valerian has come through with stakes wins in his latest two starts. The gelding won the $56,390 Remington Park Distance Championship (G3) at 870 yards and then the $20,000 Brigand Stakes over 550 yards at Ruidoso Downs.

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