The day after American Pharaoh won the thoroughbred Triple Crown, First Valiant Sign took the first step towards a possible Quarter Horse Triple Crown, when he won the Grade 1, $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on June 7.
“This is the year of the Triple Crown,” First Valiant Sign’s co-owner Derrol Hubbard said. “You’ve got to win the first one. We are very fortunate and very lucky.”
“I got all I could ask for,” said winning jockey Larry Payne. “He left the gate honest and was right there (with the leaders). About halfway through I was still behind, but knew I had the winner. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but he was making up a neck with each stride.”
To win the All American Triple Crown at Ruidoso Downs, First Valiant Sign must now win the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity and the Grade 1, $3 million All American Futurity, which has the largest purse of any two-year-old race in the world.
If First Valiant Sign takes the All American Triple Crown, he will earn $2,235,000 in purse money and the $4 million All American Bonus for a total of $6,235,000. American Pharaoh earned a total of $2,640,000 for winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
The last Quarter Horse to win all three Grade 1 futurities at Ruidoso Downs was world champion Special Effort in 1981, four years after Affirmed won the thoroughbred Triple Crown. American Pharaoh was the first thoroughbred Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
First Valiant Sign, a $100,000 purchase at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, ran the 350-yard Ruidoso Futurity in :17.310, earning $315,000 for the win.
“He’ll like more distance,” Payne said, referring to the 400 yards of the Rainbow Futurity and the 440 yards of the All American Futurity.
Owned by Hubbard with Scott Bryant, Joe Dee Brooks and R. Lee Lewis, First Valiant Sign, a gelded son of Valiant Hero, finished a neck in front of Jess Burnin, who was disqualified and placed last for interference. The disqualification moved Fine Oak Corona from third place to second place, and One Fabulous Eagle was moved from fourth place to third.
Jess Burnin’s disqualification cost Mike Joiner, also First Valiant Sign’s trainer, a one-two finish. And although First Valiant Sign was 31-1 long shot, Joiner was not surprised by his win.
“In his training race, he ran green, but he closed strongly,” said Joiner. “And the one hole was the perfect place for him today.”
First Valiant Sign finished second with a time of :17.786 in his Ruidoso Futurity trial and was the only finalist who did not win his trial. Jose Sanchez’s Fine Oak Corona, trained by Paul Jones, had the fastest time (:17.648) on the same trial day as First Valiant Sign. L. Salvador Martinez was aboard the Coronas Prospect son.
Darling Farms’ One Fabulous Eagle, a son of One Famous Eagle, was a $75,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase. Trained by Kasey Willis, One Fabulous Eagle made his racing debut with a one-length win and the second-fastest time (:17.687) on the first day of trials.