Louisiana Downs Hosts First Futurity Trials on Saturday

Louisiana's Mardi Gras Futurity trials will kick off the 2-year-old season.

By Martha Claussen
Q-Racing Aces
February 20, 2014

Trials for the first official futurity of the year will take place this Saturday at Harrah's Louisiana Downs when 136 accredited Louisiana-breds compete in 15 trials for the $281,514 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2).

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Last year, longshot K K Horse Racing's Sandra Sue Blue went gate-to-wire in the Mardi Gras. The Jess Louisiana Blue filly was dismissed at odds of 33-1, pulling the stunner in the 300-yard final.

The ten fastest qualifiers from Saturday's trials, will return to the track on March 15 to put their own imprint on the earliest futurity of the year and the start of a great year of Quarter Horse competition in Louisiana.

2013 LQHBA champion trainer Kenneth Roberts has won just about every major race in Louisiana, but is still looking for his first victory in the Mardi Gras Futurity. He will saddle eight in the trials Saturday, and knows that having a 2-year-old primed for the first futurity of the year is no easy task.

"It's a real tough challenge," states Roberts. "You are trying to get your babies fit, educated mind-wise and with enough works to perform without making too many mistakes."

Roberts acknowledges that some of his 2-year-olds have been quick learners, but he prefers the ones that take a little more time to mature and improve.

"It's a gamble," admits the veteran horseman. "I try not to push my horses too soon, because we have a long season ahead of us. You just never know who will step up on Saturday, and even if they don't qualify, they could be better as the year goes on. JLS Mr Bigtime ran in trials for the Mardi Gras; did not qualify and went on to run in the All American."

The finals of the  Mardi Gras Futurity will be contested on Saturday, March 15, with $126,681 going to the winner.
There is more than the winner's check up for grabs in terms of the final results of the Mardi Gras Futurity. The farm that stands the winning sire is sure to get calls immediately from owners interested in breeding their mares.

Robicheaux Ranch Inc, stands some of the top stallions in the country, including Game Patriot, Toast to Dash, Jet Black Patriot and Heza Fast Dash. The 16-year-old Heza Fast Dash finished 2013 as the nation's leading sire of money earners and the 4th leading sire of 2-year-old money earners, according to AQHA statistics.

Ryan Robicheaux will be busy with breeding duties on Saturday, but said a large television screen has been installed in their farm near Breaux Bridge.

"Success in the Mardi Gras can turn the breeding season around," said Robicheaux. "Owners will be looking for fast horses, who are seasoned early. We know we will field a lot of calls if our stallions have good results on Saturday."

Robicheaux echoes the comments of Roberts on having a successful outcome in the first futurity of the year.

"Heza Skipin Fast (by Heza Fast Dash) won in 2009," said Robicheaux.  "Qualifying in the Mardi Gras is anybody's race."

Robicheaux does not discredit a winner of a 300-yard futurity early in the year, citing the success of 2008 Mardi Gras champion  Jet Black Patriot, who went on to run second that year in the 440-yard All American Futurity (G1) and won the LQHBA Futurity (RG1) in November.

The draw is set and post time for Saturday's action has been moved up to 11:30 a.m. (CT). For those unable to attend the races in person, live streaming of all the trials will be available on Q-Racing Video.

On Tuesday, February 25, Louisiana Downs will run two trials for the $84,686 Mardi Gras Derby. The trials will run as the seventh and eighth races of the card, and two entrants, Sandra Sue Blue and Heza Fast Afair were supplemented for $6,000 each. Last year, T Boy C prevailed as the favorite in the Mardi Gras Derby for owner Jose Guzman and trainer Miguel Rodriguez.

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