Archive for July, 2008

Heartswideopen on course for rare triple

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Javier and Manny Rodriguez’s Heartswideopen, with her dominating victory in the Grade 1, $446,439 Rainbow Derby on Saturday, July 19, at Ruidoso Downs, is now an All American Derby win away from becoming just the second All American Futurity winner to sweep the Ruidoso Downs’ derby triple crown .

The only other All American Futurity winner to return the following summer and win the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American derbies is world champion DM Shicago, who was conditioned by Heartswideopen’s trainer Carl Draper.

 “I can’t separate those two great horses,” Draper said after being asked if he is more confident of Heartswideopen’s prospects in the All American Derby than he was with DM Shicago’s at the same point in his career. “I am just lucky to have had them.”

Ridden for the first time by Bonifacio Perez, Heartswideopen broke straight from the outside post position in the Rainbow Derby and soon took command of the 440-yard dash.

 “My horse was with her for a little while,” said Cody Jensen aboard runner-up Strong Hope. “But, she is such a great horse.”

Heartswideopen crossed the finish line a length in front of Strong Hope in :21.095. That time ended a record streak of three-consecutive 440-yard races under :21.00 for Heartswideopen, who was the fastest qualifier to the Rainbow Derby with her :20.976 trial win.

The champion daughter of Feature Mr Jess and Dashing Phoebe had also won her last two Grade 1 stakes, the All American Futurity and the Ruidoso Derby, from the outside post position, but in each of those races she drifted towards the outside rail before rallying for the victory. In the Rainbow Derby, she broke straight and true. “I wasn’t worried about that [her drifting out], but I was concerned that the inside of the track may have been faster earlier today,” Draper said.

Also, Draper wasn’t concerned about the jockey change on Heartswideopen. Oscar Hernandez had ridden her in nine of her 10 prior starts, including her three previous Grade 1 stakes wins. Hernandez came back from knee surgery for the Ruidoso summer season, but suffered a setback and will be sidelined for the rest of the year. “I feel sorry for Oscar,” Draper said. “But I have to take care of business. Bonifacio is a top race rider who has ridden for me before.”

Perez knew the enormity of a Rainbow Derby win on Heartswideopen’s resume.  “I had never been so nervous in my career,” he said. “But when I got on her and petted her, she relaxed and I knew we would get along.”

Mike Abraham’s Strong Hope finished second for the second consecutive time in a Grade 1 derby. “It’s no disgrace to run second to her,” said trainer Fred Danley. “I’ll take it everytime.”

R.D. Hubbard and Johnny T.L. Jones’ Noconi finished third, three quarters of a length behind Strong Hope, to complete the identical 1-2-3 finish of the Ruidoso Derby. The homebred Mr Jess Perry son is affirming his reputation as the best maiden in quarter horse racing with five seconds and three thirds from 10 career starts, mainly against top stakes company. The Paul Jones-trained gelding was a close second in the Hobbs America Futurity and third in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby.

 The $223,219 first-place check raised Heartwideopen’s career earnings to $1,705,125 and moved her into ninth-place on the all-time leading money-earning list for Quarter Horses. She is the third-richest female of all time and less than $50,000 behind Dashingly. Last year’s world champion Blues Girl Too is the all-time leading money earning female with $2,032,328.

Heartswideopen is now considered the prime contender for the 2008 world champion’s crown, a title won by DM Shicago in 2005. Last year, she was the overwhelming choice as the champion two-year-old and champion two-year-old filly. The complete order of finish in the Rainbow Derby was Heartswideopen, Strong Hope, Noconi, Rock Solid Jess, Brighton Beach, Illegal Memories (2007 champion two-year-old gelding), SF Royal Bank, Eye Of Glory and Possum Fust.

2008 NCHA Derby

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Earned: $6,312


Working dog

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A few of you have asked for an update on Fergus, who just turned 16 months old. I am happy to report that he is now able to resist the temptation of most moving objects, including furry critters, small children and wheels. Most of the credit goes to my husband, who jogs with him every day, and to Cesar Millan, “the Dog Whisperer,” and his DVDs.

Fergus has become so fit, in fact, that today I found him carrying an eight-pound dumbbell in his mouth. I knew this was not the time to ask him to “drop it.” Besides, I was impressed with his initiative. Just a few weeks ago, he was carrying around a five-pound weight.

Mostly, he tries to be helpful. Recently I came home to find him cleaning the house. With the assistance of his buddy, Brother, a Havana Brown cat that is handy at opening cabinet doors, he had found a toilet brush and a container of Comet cleanser and was working on an oriental carpet in the entryway.

His breeder said she thought that he would make a great working dog. I thought she meant herding, but it must have been tracking — Comet cleanser all over the house.

2008 NCHA Classic Challenge Non-Pro Ltd

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Earned: $9,855


2008 NCHA Classic Challenge Open

Monday, July 21st, 2008
Earned: $50,000


Stolis Winner takes Rainbow Futurity

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Jerry Windham’s homebred Stolis Winner proved that his upset Heritage Place Futurity victory (pictured) wasn’t a fluke with a game win over PB And Crackers in the Grade 1, $625,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, July 20.

“I was surprised in the Heritage Place Futurity; I thought we could finish fourth,” Windham said. “He’s maturing every day so I wasn’t as surprised with this win.”

The fans weren’t surprised, either. He went off at nearly 25-1 in the Heritage Place Futurity at Remington Park, but was the 4-1 second choice in the Rainbow Futurity.

A son of Stoli, Stolis Winner raced the 400 yards in :19.470 with Rodrigo Vallejo aboard for trainer Heath Taylor.

R.D. and Shaun Hubbard’s PB And Crackers, trained by six-time defending national champion Paul Jones, finished three quarters of a length ahead of third-place runner Inseperable, also trained by Jones.

Taylor lightly trained Stolis Winner after the Heritage Place Futurity and the strategy had paid off with a Rainbow Futurity win and with the gelding now being one of the top prospects for the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity on Labor Day.

“It was a calculated risk not to breeze him [before the Rainbow trials],” Taylor said. “But the run across the track in the trial helped him. Unlike most two-year-olds, he seems to run better during the second out.” Taylor will now lightly trained Stolis Winner up to the All American Futurity trials on August 14.

PB And Crackers, a son of leading freshman sire The Down Side, also showed that he will be ready for the All American Futurity trials with his second-place effort. “He broke really well for him,” jockey Freddie Martinez said. “He’s a late maturing colt who will like 440 yards [the distance of the All American Futurity].”

Fast Prize Zoom, the 2-5 favorite, never found her best stride and finished fourth. She set world records in her first two starts, including the Grade 1, $300,000 West Texas Futurity, and then set the fastest-qualifying time to the Rainbow Futurity, :19.563.

The complete order of finish in the Rainbow Futurity was Stolis Winner, PB And Crackers, Inseperable, Fast Prize Zoom, Cashinginmydreams, Winners Version, Dashazoom, Spring Bling and Mr Perrys Wine.

In the race before the Rainbow Futurity, a 350-yard allowance race, Wild Six made an impressive return to racing with an expanding length-and-three-quarter victory in :17.266. She will now point to the All American Derby trials on August 15.

Last year, the Wes Giles-trained filly won the West Texas Futurity and the Rainbow Futurity before finishing sixth in the All American Futurity behind champion Heartswideopen, whp won the Rainbow Derby on Saturday, July 19.

Long live the King

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Mention “the King” in Western riding circles and it won’t be Elvis that comes to mind, but a bay stallion that set the standard for style and performance during the first decades the American Quarter Horse Association.

King P-234 (1932 –1958) was a son of a famous racehorse known north and south of the Rio Grande as Zantanon, the Mexican Man O’War. King’s dam was purportedly a Quarter mare named Jabalina, recorded in the first studbook as sired by Yellow Jacket and out of an unknown mare. Her sire was changed in the second edition to Strait Horse by Yellow Jacket.

Early day Quarter Horse ancestry offered a patchwork of pedigrees, some substantiated, many not. The American Quarter Horse Association, founded in 1940, was established with the purpose of defining breed standards. Association “inspectors” examined applicants in the flesh for registration and documented their pedigrees as best they could.

Since a lot of people cared more about a horse’s usefulness than its breeding, pedigrees were often irrelevant to pre-registry owners. Quarter Horse names from the first part of the 20th century reflect the emphasis on physical traits, as well as on the reputation of the horses’ breeders. Names such as Yellow Jacket, the Strait Horse, Dr. Rose mare, and Jabalina (alternately Javalina) were the norm; often-different horses had the same name.

There were three mares in the 1920s and 1930s, for instance, which were named Jabalina. One of them was the dam of King P-234. Exactly which one will probably never be known. But her identity caused somewhat of a stir in the late 1950s, when former AQHA historian Franklin Reynolds published the booklet King Was Not a Quarter Horse, based on his research and first-hand interviews.

It was Reynolds’ contention, backed by an affidavit signed by John Strait, and a pedigree attested to by Fred Binkley, that King was out of a mare whose paternal, as well as maternal grandsire was Barrington, a registered American Saddle Horse (Saddlebred) with Standardbred ancestry.

Fred Brinkley was the breeder of the Jabalina sired by a Barrington son and out of a Barrington daughter. This Jabalina later belonged to Benavides Volpe, the man who bred King. Another Jabalina, sired by a son of Sykes Rondo, was sold to the U.S. Army Remount Service for breeding purposes.

None of this matters today, in light of King’s stature as a cornerstone of the breed. It seems it would even have been a tempest in a teapot in the 1950s, considering that the bottom side of all three Jabalina pedigrees was blank. Nevertheless, it remains an interesting footnote in the history of the American Quarter Horse.