Champions Eagle Jazz, KVN Corona Headline Ruidoso Derby Trials

The 10 fastest qualifiers from Sunday's 400-yard trials will meet in the $759,000 final.

Q-Racing Journal

Eagle Jazz, pictured here winning last year's $1-million Rainbow Futurity, is one of 91 3-year-olds entered in Sunday's 400-yard Ruidoso Derby trials. PHOTO: Gay Harris

Champions KVN Corona and Eagle Jazz, along with 2017 All American Futurity (G1) winner Fly Baby Fly, are among the 91 sophomores entered in Sunday's 400-yard Ruidoso Derby (G1) trials at Ruidoso Downs.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from Sunday's 10 trials will meet in the June 9, $759,000 Ruidoso Derby final. Post time for the first trial is set for 1 p.m. (MDT).

Last year's champion 2-year-old colt, KVN Corona is a gray son of Corona Cartel trained by Paul Jones for owner Keith Nellesen of Spanish Fork, Utah. The colt has won all eight of his starts, all at Los Alamitos, and he has earned $679,534.

“First, we brought him to Ruidoso because I wanted to support the new ownership,” said Nellesen. “Second, there was nothing else for him during the summer. He’s not a Cal-bred.”

KVN Corona earned his championship with wins in the Grade 1, $960,000 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity and the Grade 2, $382,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity. He also has won both of his outs this season, including the 400-yard, $235,000 El Primero del Ano Derby (G3) on March 31.

KVN Corona was supplemented to the Ruidoso Derby trials for $30,000. This will not be KVN Corona’s first trip to Ruidoso, as the colt was offered in the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale by breeder McColee Land and Livestock LLC, which Nellesen owns with Lance Robinson. The name McColee is a reference to Nellesen’s childrens’ names.

“I really liked the horse,” said Nellesen. “I wanted to get the colt. His mother (the Executive Menace mare Executive Looks) died in 2016, and KVN Corona is the last Corona Cartel out of her. My budget was for $150,000 and I got him for $140,000, so I only had one more bid left.

"He’s great and a lot of fun," Nellesen added. "He’s possibly a once-in-a-lifetime horse. He’s a really smart horse and does not panic. He always runs his race.”

KVN Corona drew post 3 and will be ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala in the fifth trial.

Eagle Jazz, last year's champion 2-year-old gelding, drew post 6 and will be ridden by Cipriano Vidana in the eighth heat. Trained by Wes Giles for owner Juan A. Medina of Zapata, Texas, the homebred son of One Dashing Eagle won all five of his races at Ruidoso last summer, including the 350-yard, $800,000 Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and 400-yard, $1-million Rainbow Futurity (G1).

Fly Baby Fly will be making her first start since September 4, when the sorrel daughter of One Famous Eagle scored a convincing 1 1/2-length victory in the 440-yard, $3-million All American Futurity (G1). A $180,000 purchase at the 2016 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, the filly is trained by Trey Ellis for the Fly Baby Fly Partnership, based in New Waverly, Texas.

Fly Baby Fly drew post 7 and will be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo in the first trial.

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