Ronnie James Tops Texas Classic Futurity Trials
Field set for richest race in the state of Texas.
October 21, 2012
Lone Star Park held 14 trials over a period of nearly six hours on Saturday night for the $1 million-estimated Texas Classic Futurity (G1), but the fastest qualifier ultimately came from the very first heat as Brett Mennen’s Ronnie James put up a time of :19.436 with a smashing 4 ¼-length victory. The Texas-bred gelding by Valiant Hero figures to be the favorite to take the final on November 10, closing night of the Lone Star meet.
Ridden by John Hamilton for trainer Heath Taylor, Ronnie James opened up an early three-length lead and then dominated all the way to the wire. Among his defeated opponents was the previously-undefeated winner of the Remington Park Oklahoma Bred Futurity (R), Lota PYC, who finished fifth as the odds-on favorite after being jostled at the start. Ronnie James also came into the trial with an impressive record, including a victory in the Firecracker Futurity (G2) at Delta Downs. His only career defeat in six starts was a second-place run in his Firecracker trial, and he also won a trial for the Dash For Cash Futurity (G1) at Lone Star but failed to qualify to the final. His earnings now stand at $178,658. Mennen, of Michigantown, Indiana, bred the winner out of the Feature Mr Jess mare Jess A Lil Bit.
Second-fastest qualifier Valiant Lil Lady came out of the 11th trial and gave sire Valiant Hero another finalist. Bred by Bob and Jerry Gaston and owned by Byron Gardner, Valiant Lil Lady won her trial after a layoff of nearly five months. She finished eighth in the Heritage Place Futurity (G1) in May after breaking her maiden and winning her Heritage trial at Remington Park. Rodrigo Vallejo rode for trainer Judd Kearl and stopped the timer at :19.524 with a 2 ¼-length win.
Three runners by PYC Paint Your Wagon advanced to the final, including JNB Enterprises LLC’s undefeated PYC Kant Catch Me. Also ridden by Vallejo and trained by Kearl, the Oklahoma-bred colt won the seventh heat by a length in :19.689 for the eighth-fastest time. He is now a perfect five-for-five in his career. Weetona Stanley bred all three PYC Paint Your Wagon qualifiers with One Fast Wagon running for Joe Flores and First Prize Shaunda being a homebred.
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