Krash Cartel alone at the wire

Saturday, June 9 will be a red letter for horse racing fans. While I’ll Have Another makes his bid at Belmont Park to become the first Thoroughbred Triple Crown winner in 34 years, 10 Quarter Horses will vie for the first leg of Quarter Horse racing’s Triple Crown at Ruidoso Downs.

Krash Cartel is a likely favorite for the G1 Ruidoso Futurity following a 4 1/4-length win in his qualifying trial and the fastest time (:17.759 for 350 yards) from 25 trials. It was the first career start for the son of Corona Cartel, who was purchased for $72,000 at the 2011 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

Pajarita Sita, already seasoned with a win in her West Texas Futurity trial and a third-place finish in the Futurity, won her Ruidoso Futurity trial under Esgar Ramirez by 1 1/4 lengths in the sixth fastest time (:17.913). Trained for Jose Badillo by Alonso Orozco, Pajarita Sita was a $42,000 yearling purchase from the first crop of Pappasito, by Corona Cartel out of Strawberry Silk, winner of the 1989 All American Futurity.

Krash Cartel, trained by John Stinebaugh for Los Primitos Stables, was ridden by Cody Jensen, who also qualified for the Ruidoso Futurity aboard Jesatar (:17.906), trained by Raymond Vargas.

Esgar Ramirez, Pajarita Sita’s rider, also qualified for the Ruidoso Futurity with a 3-length trial win and the fourth fastest time (:17.848) aboard PJ Chick In Black by Desirio. Trained by Carl Draper and owned by Draper’s wife, Fredda, in partnership with Denny Bowen and Susie Taylor, PJ Chick In Black won the New Mexican Spring Futurity, after a debut win in the trials for the race.

Quarter racing’s Triple Crown consists of the $600,000 G1 Ruidoso Futurity; the $700,000 G1 Rainbow Futurity, on July 21; and the $2.4 million All American Futurity on Labor Day, September 3. All three races are held at Ruidoso Downs.

If one horse should sweep all three Ruidoso Downs races in 2012, in addition to the winner’s shares for each and including $1.2 million from the All American Futurity, they will also receive a $4 Triple Crown million bonus for a grand total of $5,850,000.

I’ll Have Another’s challengers in the Belmont are likely to include Kentucky Derby rivals Dullahan (3rd), Union Rags (7th), and Alpha (12th), none of whom have raced since the Derby, and Optimizer (11th), who also ran in the Preakness (6th).

“He continues to amaze me the way he’s handled all this and continues to thrive,” said I’ll Have Another’s trainer Doug O’Neill, after the colt’s morning gallop on Sunday, May 27 at Belmont. “He gallops like an average horse works. I think the amount of energy he puts into his gallops is the reason why an official workout isn’t important, in my mind.”