All American: Brothers In Arms

Eduardo and Juan Gonzalez race against each other. Together.

By Richard Chamberlain
Q-Racing Journal
August 31, 2013

The Gonzalez brothers are hoping for a big All American weekend.

Competitors on the track – friends, colleagues and brothers off it. That’s the brothers Juan and Eduardo Gonzalez, who between them have four starters qualified for two Grade 1 races with purses totaling $5.4 million this weekend at Ruidoso Downs.

Eduardo will saddle Reagal Eagle in the $2.6 million All American Futurity. Juan will send out Handsome Jack Flash and You N How Many More in the Futurity, and Vancouver Moon in the $2.8 million All American Derby.

The brothers are hoping for the best.

“We both want to win,” Eduardo says. “Neither of us wants to run second. We both want to show our training skills. We compete with each other, but we respect each other very well, too, and there is no animosity or anything like that between us. Whoever wins, wins. That’s the way it is.”

“We’re always happy for each other,” Juan agrees. “Every time we win, we congratulate each other, and the other one vice versa. We’re brothers – we love each other.”

“That’s the way they were raised,” says J.R.Valenzuela, an ex-jockey and longtime friend. “They still help each other out when they have problems. They’re family, and that’s the way their father taught them.”

The Gonzalez brothers – all seven of them – grew up on the racetrack. Their father was a horse trainer in Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, but who ran horses at tracks all over Mexico.

“Ever since we were growing up, we were underneath the feet of our dad’s horses,” Juan says. “He was a trainer, a very good one, and he taught us about horses – and family. There are seven of us brothers and we are all trainers. Four of my brothers are in Mexico, and there are three of us here in the United States – me and Eduardo, and our brother Eliseo, my assistant trainer.”

A well-established trainer in the United States, Juan, 48, sent out By By JJ to win the 2003 All American Futurity. In official American Quarter Horse racing, Juan has conditioned the earners of more than $11.3 million and through the All American trials had saddled the winners of 457 races from 3,121 starters. Juan and wife Patricia have children Juan Carlos, 27; Isabella, 23; Allison, 16; and Manuel, 9.

The younger brother is well on his way to establishment. Training American Quarter Horses in official races only since 2009, Eduardo through the trials had sent out 43 winners in 275 races, for a win percentage of 15.6. They also finished second or third in 81 races, for a win/place/show percentage of 45. Horses conditioned by Gonzalez have earned more than $1.27 million. Eduardo, 43, and wife Miralda have children Eduardo Jr., 13; Paulina, 11; and Fernanda, 4.

It was By By JJ who put the Gonzalez name at the top of the charts.

“Everything changed,” says Juan, of how his business and life were altered by conditioning the winner of the All American Futurity. “It was totally different: different horses, different owners. Everybody wanted to send me horses. I got so full of horses I couldn’t take them all. I had to turn owners and horses away. But that’s good. The horses I’ve got now are all better than By By JJ. Times change and horses get better as the years go by, every generation.”

The brothers, however, haven’t changed so much.

“They both can train, oh yes they can,” says Valenzuela. “They are both very good trainers.”

“And after this, Eduardo is going to be the same kind of trainer,” Juan says. “I know he is. I’m his brother.”

Oh yeah, that brother thing. . . .

Last year, Vancouver Moon had the 10th-fastest qualifying time to the All American Futurity. Or she did, until later that trial day when little brother sent out Sudden Thoughts to sprint the quarter-mile just a little faster, relegating big brother’s filly to the sidelines.

Vancouver Moon qualified for this year’s All American Derby. Sudden Thoughts did not. And the brothers have their 2-year-olds on edge for the Futurity on Monday.

Stay tuned for the rematch.

The All American Futurity and Derby are September 1-2 at Ruidoso Downs in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Extended coverage of the All American weekend is provided by the Q-Racing Journal. Read the digital Q-Racing Journal at www.aqharacing.com. If you cannot attend the races live, watch them on Q-Racing Video at www.qracingvideo.com.