Market high and wide for Keeneland Yearling Sale

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Thoroughbred racing’s premier auction, the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, concluded its 12-day run on Saturday with double-digit increases over 2012 and the highest average price since 2006.

The cumulative average price of $102,220 on 2,744 yearlings rose 17 percent from $87,330 in 2012, and was the third-highest September Sale average ever. Gross sales of $280,491,300 were up 27.6 percent over 2012, the highest since 2008, and 18 individual horses brought $1 million or more, the most since 2008, from 15 different buyers.

“Buyers are responding to a fair, realistic market,” said Geoffrey, Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Given the smaller size of recent foal crops, supply is more in line with demand, spurring competition for horses.”

M.V. Magnier of Irish-based Coolmore Stud purchased the sale-topper, a War Front colt for $2.5 million. Whisper Hill Farm spent $2.2 million for an Indian Charlie filly, who is half-sister to two G1 winners.

“The depth of buyers is the encouraging factor of the sale,” said Peter O’Callaghan of Woods Edge Farm, consignor of the sale-topping $2.5 million colt. “Just the amount of people bidding on your horses is really great to see. We’ve been waiting for it for a while.”

The high volume of trade also pushed the buy-back rate to a low of 19.9 percent, with active buyers from the U.S. and Europe, as well as Russia, Qatar, Japan, Korea, and Central and South America.

Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. ranked as the leading buyer for the second consecutive year, buying 27 yearlings for $11.6 million. Shadwell’s purchases were led by a $1 million Tapit filly consigned by Woods Edge Farm. Tapit, who stands at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, was the sales leading sire by gross with 38 yearlings for a total of $15,670,000, including four which brought $1 million or more.

Handsome Jack Flash streaks for win in All American Futurity

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Handsome Jack Flash - photo by Gay Harris

Handsome Jack Flash, trained by Juan Gonzalez and ridden by Jaime Leos, broke sharply and dueled all the way for a :21.166 victory, by a neck, in the $2.6 million G1 All American Quarter Horse Futurity on Labor Day, September 2, at Ruidoso Downs.

“It was my first All American ride and I was nervous before the race,” said Leos. “My main concern was getting away well. Once we got to the lead, he just kept giving me all he had.”

Reagal Eagle, trained by Eduardo Gonzalez, winning trainer Juan’s brother, was runnerup by a nose over Wagon Tales in the 440-yard dash, the richest race for two-year-olds of any breed in North America. Previously undefeated Especially Tres, the post time favorite and winner of her trial by 3 1/2 lengths, yielded for fourth by a neck.

Handsome Jack Flash earned $1.3 million for the win, his fourth in five starts, and now has a career total of $1,482,271. A gelded son of First Moonflash, out of a Mr Jess Perry daughter, he is owned by his breeder, Debra Laney, in partnership with Norma and Brenda Alvarez.

This is the second All American Futurity win for Gonzalez, 48, who has conditioned earners of $12.4 million, including 2003 All American Futurity winner By By JJ, and also saddled this year’s sixth-place finisher You N How Many More.

Feature Hero takes $2.8 million All American Derby
Feature Hero, a 24-1 longshot, claimed the richest win in Quarter Horse history on Sunday, September 1, in the $2.8 million G1 All American Derby. Wicked Courage, the 6-5 favorite and winner of both the Ruidoso Derby and the Rainbow Derby, finished seventh.

The win was the first for Feature Hero, trained by Eddie Willis and ridden by Jimmy Dean Brooks, since he took the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby this past April. The gelded son of Valiant Hero is owned by Gary and Micah McKinney’s Reliance Ranch. The McKinneys founded Racing Free, a new program that rewards owners of racehorses who win races and are drug free, a national effort to promote drug-free racing.

Eddie Willis and Jimmy Dean Brooks also remained hot in Monday’s $85,000 All American Junvenile, when One Valiant Hero, by Valiant Hero out of a Mr Jess Perry daughter, raced to a 1 3/4-length win. One Valiant Hero is owned by Valeriano Racing Stables.

Joe Kirk Fulton, Leading Breeder of Dashs Dream and Peppy San Badger dies

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Joe Kirk Fulton, a leading breeder of Quarter race horses for more than 50 years and the breeder of legendary cutting performer and leading sire Peppy San Badger, passed away on Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Fulton was raised near Lubbock, Tex., where his father, Royce, worked as a cost accountant for a pipeline company, before he started his own business with $300 in capital, in 1940. By 1955 his company was one of the top ten pipeliners in North America, grossing $15 million annually.

In 1956, Royce and Joe Kirk, his only child, purchased 126,000 acres of what had been the vast Matador Land & Cattle Company, near Channing, Tex.,and established the Quien Sabe Ranch, which also became headquarters for Joe Kirk Fulton’s Quarter Horse breeding operation.

“I like my cowboys at the ranch to be mounted on good horses,” said Joe Kirk, who kept his cowboys supplied with descendents of both Sugar Badger, the dam of Peppy San Badger, and Dash For Cash, the sire of many of his champion race horses. “They appreciate that and it makes it a lot easier to keep good cowboys.”

Fulton ventured into the Quarter Horse arena with halter and cutting horses, but by the 1970s, he had switched to race horses. He would breed race earners of over $16 million, including 72 stakes winners and world champions Dashs Dream and Special Leader. He also bred and/or owned stallions that sired earners of more than $80 million, including Peppy San Badger with over $21 million in offspring earnings.

In 2011, Fulton was inducted into the AQHA Hall of Fame.

“I look for breeding and conformation with my horses because I don’t think either of them is worth a damn without the other,” he said.”

In 1952, while a student at Texas Tech University, Joe Kirk Fulton became the school’s first mounted mascot, a cherished tradition to this day.

Sweet smell of success for Ms First Prize Rose in Rainbow Futurity

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Ms First Prize Rose by a nose

Ms First Prize Rose and stablemate Belle Helene gave trainer Blane Wood a one-two finish in the 50th running of the 400-yard, $1 million Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, on Sunday, July 21.

“She got away a little slow,” said Ms First Prize Rose’s rider Ricky Ramirez. “Belle Helene had a length on me, but (my horse) really came on.”

A blanket finish where three noses, a head and two necks separated the top seven finishers saw Ms First Prize Rose win by a nose in :19.540. Third-placed Potenzza was a neck behind Belle Helene.

Ms First Prize Rose, owned by Johnny Trotter and Burnett Ranches Ltd, is by Corona Cartel and out of Heritage Place Futurity winner First Carolina, whose dam is 2006 Broodmare of the Year First Prize Dash, sister to all-time leading sire First Down Dash.

First Carolina has three 2-year-olds racing in 2013: Ms First Prize Rose, who broke her maiden in her third start – Rainbow Futurity trial; Coronado Cartel, winner of the Oklahoma-Bred Futurity: and Itea, runnerup in the G2 Firecracker Futurity.

Belle Helene, a $75,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase bred by Julianna Hawn-Holt and owned by Lana Merrick, is by Valiant Hero and out of 2004 Rainbow Futurity winner and track record setter Thewayyouwantmetoo.

Order of finish, with trainer and jockey, for the G1 Rainbow Futurity: Ms First Prize Rose (Wood/Ramirez); Belle Helene (Wood/Jensen); Potenzza Jones/Sanchez); Carters Disco (Stinebaugh/Perez); Reagal Eagle (Gonzalez/Gamez); Regard The Cartel Willis/JD Brooks); Rocked Up Gonzalez/Leos); BP Its My Policy (Wood/Baldillez); Chief Tistarosa (Cordova/Ramirez); and GRC Justplainazoom Jones/Garcia-Luna).

Wicked Courage takes Rainbow Derby in ninth consecutive win
Wicked Courage, winner of the G1 Rainbow Derby, tallied her ninth consecutive win as the betting favorite in the $1 million Rainbow Derby on Saturday, July 20, at Ruidoso Downs. The winning time, at 440 yards, was :21.190; Jjs Gone, trained by Victor Flores for Maegan Cavasos and ridden by Esgar Ramirez, was second;

Owned by Andrew Smith, trained by Luis Villafranco and ridden by Cody Jensen, Wicked Courage is a gelded son of Captain Courage out of Wicked Pamela, dam of three stakes winner.

Reagal Eagle soars in Rainbow Futurity trials

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Reagal Eagle

Reagal Eagle, trained by Eduardo Gonzalez, topped hopefuls from 25 trial races last week at Ruidoso Downs for ten slots in the $1 million Rainbow Futurity. The son of One Famous Eagle covered 400 yards under jockey Larry Gamez in 19.242, on Thursday, July 4, the first of two days of trials.

Belle Helene, ridden by Ricky Ramirez, had the second-fastest time of 19.403. The Valiant Hero daughter, owned by Lana Merrick, is one of three qualifiers trained by Blane Wood. Fourth and sixth-fastest qualifiers MS First Prize Rose and BP Its My Policy are also trained by Wood and were ridden by Ramirez.

Reagal Eagle broke his maiden with his 1 1/4-length Rainbow trial win; he previously placed second in his Ruidoso Futurity trial and ninth in the West Texas Juvenile. A $17,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, Reagal Eagle is owned by Hahum and Rosella Prieto, El Paso, Tex. The Prieto’s claimed a $1 million winner’s purse in the 2003 All American Futurity with By By JJ, trained by Eduardo Gonzalez’s brother, Juan Gonzales, who trains Rocked Up, the third-fastest qualifier for the 2013 Rainbow Futurity.

Belle Helene, a $75,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, is out of the 2004 Rainbow Futurity winner, Thewayouwantmetoo. Owner Merrick is a granddaughter of legendary trainer and Quarter Horse breeder Walter Merrick.

This year’s $1 million purse is a record for the Rainbow Futurity, which will be run on Sunday, July 21, and awards a winner’s purse of $500,000.

2013 Rainbow Futurity qualifiers
Horse Trainer Jockey Time
Reagal Eagle Eduardo Gonsalez Larry Gamez 19.242
Belle Helene Blane Wood Ricky Ramirez 19.403
Rocked Up Juan Gonzalez Jaime Leos 19.416
Ms First Prize Rose Blane Wood Ricky Ramirez 19.417
Regard The Cartel Eddie Willis Jimmy Brooks 19.425
BP Its My Policy Blane Wood Ricky Ramirez 19.443
Potenzza Paul Jones Esgar Ramirez 19.479
Carters Disco John Stinebaugh Bonfacio Perez 19.487
GRC Justplainazoom Paul Jones F. Garcia-Luna 19.507
Chief Tistarosa Kris Cordova Esgar Ramirez 19.515

Corona Chick 1989 – 2013

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Corona Chick photo by Sally Harrison

Corona Chick, 24, champion Quarter Horse runner and leading dam of earners of more than $3.6 million, died of natural causes on June 26, at the Blanco, Tex. ranch of her owner, Julianna Hawn-Holt. It was at Hawn-Holt Cross Triangle Ranch that Corona Chick carried and delivered 12 of her 14 race performers (from a total of 16 foals), under the care of ranch manager Bennie Greathouse.

Bred and raced in California by Robert Etchandy, Corona Chick, by Chicks Beduino, won four major stakes at two and the title of 1991 champion 2-year-old; in 1992 she was named AQHA champion 3-year-old filly. During her two-year race career, Corona Chick earned $591,326, with 15 wins from 18 starts.

In 1997, she garnered the title of AQHA Broodmare of the Year. Her top money earner, All American Futurity winner Corona Cash, with a career total of $1,542,880, was AQHA champion 2-year-old and 2-year-old filly in 1997, as well as champion 3-year-old and 3-year-old filly in 1998.

Corona Cartel, Corona Chick’s 1994 foal by Holland Ease, won $557,142 as a graded stakes winner and is ranked as Quarter racing’s all-time leading living sire, with the earners of more than $40 million and a 2013 stud fee of $35,000.

As a Quarter Horse broodmare, Corona Chick stands alone as the natural dam of 14 runners with average earnings of $258,870 and the dam of 14 foals sold at public auction as yearlings for an average of $371,700.

An elephant in the winner’s circle

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

One Quick Eagle, fastest qualifier for the Ruidoso Futurity. Gay Harris photo

Instead of the winning horse, there was an elephant in the winner’s circle for the $700,000 G1 Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, June 9.

Obviously in distress, Cartel Quick was vanned off the track before the ceremony, where owner Sergio Enriquez, trainer Alonso Orozco, and jockey Tanner Thedford were congratulated for the win.

The official press release from Ruidoso Downs noted that Cartel Quick “did not make it back to the winner’s circle due to stress and exhaustion.” On June 10, the day after the race, he was euthanized due to kidney failure. The cause of death is pending results of an autopsy.

Following revelation that eight winners of 25 trials for the 2012 Ruidoso Futurity tested positive for the powerful painkiller dermorphin, as well as a well-timed series in the New York Times about illegal drug use on tracks, including Ruidoso Downs, the heat has been on the racing industry for reform.

On April 2, 2013, legislation that will more than double funds available to the State Racing Commission for drug-testing was signed into law by New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. The same day she also signed a law to allow the commission to impose penalties of up to $100,000, or the amount of a horse’s winnings if that is greater (Cartel Quick’s winnings in the Ruidoso Futurity were $315,000) for violation of the rule against the use of illegal drugs. Current penalties are limited to $10,000 for each violation. The new laws go into effect in 2014.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., announced in May that he will sponsor a bill giving authority to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to police all race tracks with simulcast wagering. Udall is being backed by Republican senators Ed Whitfield of Kentucky and Joe Pitts pf Pennsylvania.

“This is the organization that cleaned up bicycle racing with Lance Armstrong and the Olympics,” Udall said. “Racing groups have promised drug reform for decades, but this bill would bring in real standards and enforcement from an organization with a proven record for cleaning up sports.”

The idea of federal legislation does not sit well with many in the racing industry. While it remains to be seen whether the newly created state bills will make a difference with New Mexico racing, the chance of Udall’s proposal becoming law is deemed a longshot.

In the meantime, what will Cartel Quick’s autopsy results reveal about his death? – Anyone taking bets?


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