Wicked Courage Chases History in All American Derby

Derby winner looks for history on Sunday.

August 27, 2013

Andrew Smith’s Wicked Courage tries to become just the fourth horse to sweep the three Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs when he heads the record-setting $2.8 million All American Derby on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

The All American Derby carries the largest purse in Quarter Horse racing history and is the richest derby in North America. By comparison, the Kentucky Derby has a $2 million purse.

Wicked Courage (Captain Courage-Wicked Pamela by Dash For Cash) is attempting to become just the fourth horse to sweep the three Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs. The horses who have accomplished the feat are My Easy Credit (1977), Dash For Speed (1988) and DM Shicago (2005). When My Easy Credit and Dash For Speed secured their sweeps, the first derby of the Ruidoso Downs’ summer season was the Kansas Derby.

The Luis Villafranco-trained Wicked Courage has been sensational this summer with the only glitch on his record a second-place finish in his All American Derby trial. However, he still holds the second-fastest qualifying time of :21.977.

Immediately after dismounting following the defeat, jockey Cody Jensen said: “Forget about it.” In 2004, Brimmerton won the Rainbow Derby, finished second in his All American Derby trial and then won the All American Derby.

When Wicked Courage arrived at Ruidoso Downs in mid-May, he was riding a five-race winning streak while racing in Oklahoma. He won a couple of futurities, including the Black Gold Championship Futurity (RG3) last fall at Will Rogers Downs and picked up the Bob Moore Stakes (G2) this spring at Remington Park.

The gelding then was mainly known by people closely following Quarter Horse racing, but he is now the top-ranked older horse in the weekly AQHA Racing-Horseplayernow.com National Poll.

Wicked Courage started his climb when he won the $822,753 Ruidoso Derby (G1) by a head as the 17-10 favorite after being the only qualifier to face a headwind in his trial.

Wicked Courage moved to the top of the rankings when he won the $1,055,000 Rainbow Derby (G1) after establishing the fastest-qualifying time in the trials. He pulled away as the even-money favorite to win by a length and stretch his winning streak to nine races. It then ended when he lost by a length in his All American Derby trial.

Bon Accord – owned by J. Garvan Kelly, Nancy Yearsley and Vinewood Farms – pulled off the 34-1 upset over Wicked Courage in their All American Derby trial. The gelding was the only horse in the 10 All American Derby trials to break the 21-second barrier when he stopped the timer in :20.977.

Trained by Juan Aleman, Bon Accord (Shazoom-Dream Mirage by Royal Quick Dash) was sent off at long odds after racing in one futurity trial at Los Alamitos and then two derby trials at Remington Park and not qualifying for the finals in any of those trials.

Bon Accord was trained by Aleman for his first two career starts at Los Alamitos and won both of those races, including his Golden State Million Futurity (G1) trial by one-half length.

Jon and Donna McPherson’s Point Break Dash (First Down Dash-Ms Pilot Point by Splash Bac) and Fulton Quien Sabe Ranch’s Tayte Me Down (Special Leader-Defining Difference by Feature Mr Jess) each have Grade 1 derby experience at Ruidoso Downs.

The Paul Jones-trained Point Break Dash has shown improvement throughout the summer with wins in his Rainbow and All American derby trials and a fourth-place run in the Rainbow Derby. The colt pulled away in his All American Derby trial to win by a half length, with the third-fastest qualifying time of :21.170.

Tayte Me Down has compiled a very consistent record for trainer Mike Robbins while finishing in the top-three runners in eight of nine starts. The mare was fourth in the Ruidoso Derby and second in her trial to each of the three Grade 1 derbies this summer. She raced to the sixth-fastest qualifying time of :21.236 while finishing second to Point Break Dash in their strong trial.

Trainer Sleepy Gilbreath is always dangerous in Grade 1 races and he may have a “now” horse in The Magic Dash (First Down Dash-Thewayouwantmetoo by Mr Eye Opener), owned by R.D. Hubbard, Molly Morris and Johnny Cope. The $105,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase stepped forward in his All American Derby trial with a convincing three-quarter-length trial win, with the fifth-fastest qualifying time of :21.216.

The All American Derby can be viewed live and for free on Q-Racing Video at www.qracingvideo.com.