Ochoa Advances to All American Derby

Champion earns shot at all-time earnings record.

August 17, 2012

It was all eights in the All American Derby trials. Ochoa drew the eight hole in the eighth trial, and now he has the chance to be number one.

Champion Ochoa overcame a sloppy racetrack to gain the opportunity to become American Quarter Horse racing’s all-time leading money earner in the Grade 1, $2,234,539 All American Derby when he won his All American Derby trial on Friday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

The All American Derby on September 2 is the all-time richest race for 3-year-old or older Quarter Horses. The winner will earn $938,506, and Ochoa will probably be the favorite.

The horses with the 10 fastest times from the 10 All American Derby trials earned eligibility to race in the 440-yard All American Derby.

Ochoa won his trial in :21.431 for the sixth-fastest qualifying time after the track turned from fast to sloppy following the third race.

“He broke well, as good as he can,” said co-owner Johnny T.L. Jones.

Ochoa steadily opened up his advantage through the quarter-mile and won by two expanding lengths with his ears pricked for the final 200 yards.

“I’m glad that it kept drizzling. I was worried that the sun would come out and the track would get heavy,” Jones said.

Regardless of track and weather conditions, Ochoa ran like horse deserving a shot at one of Quarter Horse racing’s most revered records.

The Tres Seis gelding has earned $1,645,736 and will add $938,506 if he can will the All American Derby. That would push his earnings to $2,584,242. The current earnings record is $2,235,161, set by 2008 All American Futurity (G1) winner Stolis Winner.

Co-owned by breeder Jones with Monte and Katsy Cluck and Doug Benson, Ochoa earned $1,200,000 and secured the 2011 champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old gelding titles when he dominated last year’s All American Futurity by 1 ½ lengths. He was then given a winter’s rest and Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame trainer Sleepy Gilbreath brought him back for the three Grade 1 derbies this summer at Ruidoso Downs.

After a troubled ninth place run in the Grade 1, $679,000 Ruidoso Derby – his sole off-the-board effort – Ochoa turned in a very memorable performance in the Grade 1, $904,000 Rainbow Derby. He bravely charged between horses nearing the wire to grab the lead in the final stride and win by a head as the 11-10 favorite.

Each of the five horses who raced to faster qualifying times than Ochoa competed in the first three trials when the track was fast.

The top two qualifiers – BPS Jumpin Frisco and Linda Tee Fire – came out of the first trial. BPS Jumpin Frisco raced to a neck win in :21.277, while Linda Tee Fire was a neck behind with a :21.324 time. Lotta Love For Robyn was one-length back in third and she made the derby as the ninth-fastest qualifier with a :21.470 time.

Bill Price’s BPS Jumpin Frisco, one of two Eddie Willis-trained qualifiers, was the odds-on favorite in the first trial after finishing fifth in the Grade 1, $2,152,300 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity back in December and grabbing thirds in the $247,800 Heritage Place Derby (G2) and the $246,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby (R).

James Sills and Abel Flores’ A Toss Up, one of two $50,000 supplemental nominees, and Johnny Trotter’s Hez Our Secret, finished in a dead heat for the win in :21.383 to share the third-fastest qualifying time.

A Toss Up won the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby and the Sooner State Stakes (RG1) at Remington Park last spring and then was a close second in the Higheasterjet Handicap (G3) at Ruidoso Downs against older horses in his start before the All American Derby trials.

The Blane Wood-trained Hez Our Secret was one of the most promising juveniles at Ruidoso Downs a year ago and then traveled to Los Alamitos to finish fourth in the Los Alamitos Two Million.

To view the complete list of qualifIers, CLICK HERE.