Fair Grounds Ends Summer Meet with Stakes-Laden Card

The track's closing-day program is topped by the $297,220 LQHBA Sale Futurity.

Fair Grounds Racecourse in New Orleans ends its summer Quarter Horse season on Saturday.

Second Down Leaving has done nothing second-rate since making his debut on June 17 at Delta Downs. Now a perfect three for three, he looks poised for his toughest test yet, the $297,220 LQHBA Sale Futurity (RG1) on Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Grant Farms LLC of Pineville, Louisiana bred the son of Coronas Leaving You out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Second Down Perry. Purchased for $26,000 by Eulalio Argote and Victor Alvarado at the 2016 LQHBA Yearling Sale, Second Down Leaving won his Lee Berwick trial in :17.741 seconds, just missing the cut-off of :17.739. However, he did not miss his opportunity in the $50,000 Louisiana Juvenile Stakes on July 8, closing gamely to score as the favorite, earning a 103 speed index and a check for $30,000.

It was a hot and steamy day at Fair Grounds on Friday, August 18 for the LQHBA Sale Futurity trials. Second Down Leaving, under jockey Manuel Gutierrez, was unfazed by the toasty conditions, winning his 350-yard heat in :17.393. That time held for the seven remaining trials run that afternoon.

Trainer Javier Noel Contreras looks for a big effort from his colt in the final.

“He came back from the trial in great shape,” said Contreras. “He’s 100% sound and shipped back to our farm without any problems.”

Contreras is not surprised that Second Down Leaving is thriving on the racetrack.

“We knew ever since we broke him that he had talent,” added Contreras. “He had never been beaten when we worked him with our other babies. He’s a very easy horse to train.”

Grant Farms is also the breeder of the fourth-fastest qualifier, Fabulously Black, a gelded son of Game Patriot by Fabulously Fast. Owned by Pete Scarmardo of Caldwell, Texas, Fabulously Black competed in both the Laddie and Lee Berwick Futurities earlier this year at Delta Downs.

Ten To Win LLC's Yumyumcomegetyousome, the second-fastest qualifier, won the fourth trial of the day by a neck in :17.430. John Hamilton rode the sorrel daughter of Fast Prize Dash, who was bred by Dr. Louis Cramer.

Hamilton was the leading rider last summer at Fair Grounds and also took the title this year at Delta Downs. He has ridden in many previous editions of the LQHBA Sale Futurity and will be looking for his first win in the stakes. Hamilton noted a significant improvement in his filly since riding her to her runner-up finish in trials for the Lassie Futurity on April 28.

“I knew she had talent, but she showed me something greater in her trial win,” said Hamilton. “She left well and kind of opened up, which I knew she could do. What I didn’t expect is the way she finished. She saw the horse to her outside, pinned her ears back and dug in. That really impressed me.”

The accomplished rider reported that she came out of the race in good order and that both he and trainer Bruce Bell feel she is sitting on another top performance.

Saturday's card will also include the $33,024 LQHBA Sale Invitational Stakes for 2-year-olds who competed in trials, but did not qualify for the final.

Next Up is the LQHBA Louisiana Million Futurity

While each of the connections is aiming to win the LQHBA Sale Futurity, the final could also be a very good preview for the 2017 LQHBA Louisiana Million (RG1) at Evangeline Downs. The race, formerly known as the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity, has been renamed with trials to be contested on Friday, November 17. The ten fastest qualifiers will return to compete in the Saturday, December 16 final.

Last year’s winner, Tate Farms Tf Racee Runaway, was the second-fastest qualifier in the LQHBA Sale Futurity, finishing fourth under jockey John Hamilton. However, the 400-yard distance of the LQHBA Louisiana Million suited his running style perfectly. So, from a handicapping perspective, check out the horses finishing well in the LQHBA Sale Futurity as they could be poised for a big payday in December.

"The LQHBA Sale Futurity marks another big day for Louisiana-bred racing," said Tony Patterson, executive director of the LQHBA. "To see the success on the racetrack of the LQHBA Yearling Sale graduates is a source of tremendous pride for our association. We wish all the best to each of the connections and know that the final will be an exceptional race."

The LQHBA Sale Futurity had its first running in 1984 with a $87,970 purse; this year the winner will receive a check in the amount of $118,888. It promises to be a very exciting final and another showcase for the tremendous success of Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses!

Here is the field, in post position order, with riders, for the LQHBA Sale Futurity (RG1):
Fabulously Black (Donald Watson)
Second Down Leaving (Manuel Gutierrez)
Jrs Natural Runaway (Randy Edison)
Yumyumcomegetyousome (John Hamilton)
Jrs Taylors Runaway (David Alvarez)
Jess Political (Noe Castaneda)
Shez Dead Serious (Gilbert Ortiz)
Eye Wanna Go Fast (Alfonso Lujan)
Stormy T (Rolando Cabrera)
Tf El Whiskey (Jorge Linares)

Heza Louisiana Dash, a multiple graded stakes winning son of Heza Fast Dash owned by Robert S. Holland’s T M Ranch, is scheduled to make his next start in Saturday’s 400-yard, $40,000 City Stakes (RG2) for Louisiana-breds at Fair Grounds Racecourse.

Trained by Kenneth Roberts Sr., Heza Louisiana Dash is coming off of a Delta Downs meet during which the 5-year-old gelding won three state-bred stakes, all as the odds-on favorite. Heza Louisiana Dash drew post 2 and will be ridden by Gilbert Ortiz.

Roberts will also send out Jes A Fast Dasher for owner Tony Doughtie. A 5-year-old son of Heza Fast Dash, the gelding is coming off of a second-place finishes to Heza Louisiana Dash in his last two outs.

Jes A Fast Dasher drew post 5 and will be ridden by David Alvarez.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
Icanonlyemagine (Noe Castaneda)
Heza Louisiana Dash (Gilbert Ortiz)
Heza Bell Perry (Alfonso Lujan)
Ldn Jessasaltydog (Everardo Rodriguez)
Jes A Fast Dasher (David Alvarez)
Zooboo (Jorge Linares)
Bankin On Bux (Damian Martinez)

Saturday’s 250-yard, $40,000 Lake View Dash Stakes (R) has drawn seven Louisiana-bred sprinters, headed by Ana L. Alvidrez’s Magic Black Jack. A 4-year-old Jet Black Patriot gelding trained by Martin Trejo, Magic Black Jack has earned $71,200 from four starts this season, and his three wins include a one-length victory as the 6-5 favorite in the 220-yard, $50,000 Flying Breed Stakes (R) at Delta Downs on July 8.

Magic Black Jack drew post 7 and will be ridden by Everardo Rodriguez.

A full field of 10 distaffers has been entered in Saturday’s 330-yard, $25,000 French Quarter Stakes. Shez The Bomb, a 3-year-old Heza Fast Dash filly trained by Eusevio Huitron for owners Watson Land & Cattle and Live Oak Farms, will be facing open stakes company off of her upset victory at odds of 9-1 in the 350-yard, $40,000 Audubon Stakes (R) on August 19. Shez The Bomb will be ridden by Damian Martinez from the rail post.

Also on Saturday, Eye Am Sizzlin is one of 10 state-bred juveniles entered in the 350-yard, $33,024 LQHBA Sale Invitational Stakes (R). Owned by Norris Davis and trainer Levi Mays, the gray son of Sizzlin Cartel has earned $72,685 from six starts, and his resume includes a fourth-place finish in the 350-yard, $705,000 Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) at Delta Downs on July 8. Eye Am Sizzlin drew post 5 and will be ridden by Ubaldo Luna.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.