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All American Derby Qualifier: Houdini

HOUDINI
Brown gelding, Valiant Hero-Pure Oklahoma by Takin On The Cash

Race Record: 13-8-3-1 $904,149
Breeder: Ellen Kennedy
Owner: Ellen Kennedy Living Trust
Trainer: Luis Villafranco
Qualifying jockey: Cody Jensen
Qualifying time: :21.263

Watch Trial Race

Race record: Houdini could gain the favorite’s role in the All American Derby (G1) after winning the $1,048,642 Rainbow Derby (G1) on July 19. Setting the third-fastest qualifying time to the All American, the Valiant Hero-sired gelding won the eighth trial by three-quarters of a length in :21.263.

Houdini prepared for his Ruidoso Downs’ season with a close second in the $50,000 Jack Brooks Stakes (RG3) at Remington Park.

“He was a little short (in his conditioning) at Remington Park, but that’s what I wanted,” said trainer Luis Villafranco. “He’s in peak form now.

“He got a little behind (in his trial) and I was a little worried. But, he loves the quarter mile.”

As a freshman, Houdini was second in the Texas Classic Futurity (G1) and the Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Futurity (R), third in the Southwest Juvenile Championship (G1) and ran in the All American Futurity (G1) as a $50,000 supplemental entry.

Pedigree: Houdini is one of 143 winners from 240 starters in four crops raced by Valiant Hero, a Grade 1-winning earner of $668,633. Valiant Hero is a 10-year-old son of First Down Dash, the world champion who is the all-time leading sire, and the champion Chicks Beduino mare Corona Chick, who is the all-time leading dam of money earners. In addition to Houdini, Valiant Hero is the sire of champion and All American Derby (G1) winner Feature Hero ($1,399,910), 18 other stakes winners and the earners of more than $8.86 million, including Mighty B Valiant ($543,968), Valiant Lil Lady ($517,604), One Valiant Hero ($382,393), Ronnie James ($261,194), Jess Being Valiant ($173,610), world record holder Valiant War Hero ($127,012) and Call Her Hero ($113,822).

Houdini is one of four stakes winner out of the Takin On The Cash mare Pure Oklahoma, who earned $36,758 and scored in the 1996 Shebester Futurity (RG3) at Blue Ribbon Downs. A full sister to graded stakes winner Sheza Neon Rose ($39,770), Pure Oklahoma is one of six winners and the earners of $168,218 from seven starters out of the Kennedy-bred, stakes-winning Real Easy Jet mare Kiss Me Real Easy ($21,558). Each of Pure Oklahoma’s 10 starters have come back a winner, for earnings of more than $1.52 million, and include stakes winners Adios My Amigos ($232,080, by Make It Anywhere), Oklahoma Bandido ($162,609, by Take Off Jess) and Oklahoma Cartel ($59,756, by Carters Cartel).

Breeder: Houdini was bred by Ellen Kennedy of Owasso, Oklahoma, who died in 2010 after a short battle with cancer. Kennedy registered her first American Quarter Horse foal in 1963, a Vandy Leo mare she named Vandy Goleo, and through 2011 had bred 133 named foals, including 15 stakes winners, 73 other winners and the earners of more than $4.64 million from 109 starters. They include Grade 1 winners Heza Ramblin Man ($750,907), Little Bit Of Ah Ha ($315,699), Rakin In The Cash ($242,707) and Spanish Boot ($128,208).

Owner: Houdini races for Ellen Kennedy Racing LLC of Owasso, Oklahoma, which is managed by Ellen’s son, Allen.

Trainer: Luis Villafranco sent out Cody Jensen on Houdini to win the Rainbow Derby, a year after winning the same race and the Ruidoso Derby (G1) with Wicked Courage ($1,132,848). Since 1991, Villafranco has saddled 911 winners and the earners of more than $14.37 million from 7,093 starters.

Jockey: Cody Jensen rode Houdini to win this year’s Rainbow Derby, Lovethewayyoulie to win the Heritage Place Futurity (G1) and Kiss My Hocks to win the Ruidoso Futurity (G1). The AQHA Champion Jockey in 2013, when he rode the earners of $3,154,543, Jensen in his career has ridden 1,477 winners and the earners of more than $30.78 million from 8,761 mounts. Jensen won the 2009 All American Derby on champion Inseperable and qualified Down Side Magician and Potenzza to this  year’s running. Jensen also rode back-to-back winners in the All American Futurity (G1), Teller Cartel and No Secrets Here in 2005-06.