Ochoa, 'Bojangles' in Same Rainbow Trial

Seven trials set with horses aiming for record Rainbow Derby purse.

July 1, 2012

When champions Ochoa and Feature Mr Bojangles try to rebound from disappointing efforts in the Ruidoso Derby (G1), they will be able to do it within view of each other. The two star 3-year-olds start in the fourth of seven trials to the Grade 1, $903,687 Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs on the Fourth of July with Ochoa in the 10th post position and Feature Mr Bojangles in the seventh post position.

The purse for the 440-yard Rainbow Derby on July 21 is a record $903,687, surpassing the $899,523 offered last year. The horses with the 10 fastest qualifying times become eligible to return for the Rainbow Derby.

There are 69 entrants in the seven trials, including supplemental nominee Sure Shot B in the fifth trial. His connections paid a $40,000 supplemental fee to enter the trials.

First post time is 1 p.m. with the Rainbow Derby trials going as the first seven races. After Wednesday’s Fourth of July program, Ruidoso Downs will be dark until Saturday. There will be no racing on Friday.

The fourth trial is the strongest trial in recent memory at Ruidoso Downs with a lineup that equals most Grade 1 stakes races. Ochoa, owned by J Bar 7 Ranch, Monte and Katsy Cluck, and Doug Benson, was named last year’s champion 2-year-old after his devastating victory in the $2.4-million All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs. He drew away from the strong field to win by 1 1/2 lengths as the 8-5 favorite.

The Sleepy Gilbreath-trained Ochoa came back after a winter’s rest to finish second in his Ruidoso Derby trial and that race figured to set him up for a strong effort in the Ruidoso Derby. However, he stumbled at the start and bumped his rival in the Ruidoso Derby and was never in the hunt for the win, finishing ninth for his only finish below third in his six-race career. Roy Baldillez will be aboard the earner of $1,261,950.

Feature Mr Bojangles, the 2011 champion 2-year-old colt, won three futurities last year, highlighted by his one-half length win in the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity. He also won the Four Corners Futurity and the Hobbs America Futurity (G2) for owners R.D. Hubbard, Jim Helzer, S/M Cattle Export Company and Jaime Dominguez.

The Roberto Sanchez-trained Feature Mr Bojangles, a son of Feature Mr Jess, is coming off a troubled trip in the Ruidoso Derby like Ochoa. Feature Mr Bojangles broke out at the start and bumped Whirlaway Red, the horse next to him. Ochoa was on the outside of Whirlaway Red and hit him from the other side. G.R. Carter Jr., who has ridden Feature Mr Bojangles in six of nine starts, is up.

Also in the deep fourth trial are All American Futurity qualifiers Lotta Love For Robyn and Denver Pass along with Los Alamitos Two Million (G1) qualifier Hez Our Secret.

The first trial has 2011 Ruidoso Futurity winner Silver For Me, who is looking for his first win since winning his Rainbow Futurity trial a year ago.

The second trial features Remington Park Futurity (R) winner and Heritage Place Futurity (G1) runner-up Mighty B Valiant, who was the 4-5 favorite in last year’s Rainbow Futurity.

The third trial sets up as a rematch between West Texas Derby (G3) winner TF Featured Effort and West Texas Derby third-place finisher Ocean La Jolla.

The fifth trial is also very deep with Texas Classic Futurity (G1) winner Sure Shot B, All American Futurity third-place finisher Tee Cos, Rainbow Futurity runner-up The Long Knife, All American Juvenile (R) winner Back In The Pack and Texas Classic Futurity second-place finisher Algorithmic.

The sixth trial features Golden State Million (G1) runner-up Jess Lips and All American Futurity qualifier Bills Last, who was sixth in the Ruidoso Derby.

The seventh trial features the Ruidoso Downs debut of Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) even-money favorite and runner-up Deniro meeting All American Futurity qualifier Mr Ease 123.