Big Weekend Upcoming at Ruidoso

Two Grade 1 races and Belmont simulcast set for June 9.

June 2, 2012

Two of the three 2011 2-year-old champions in the Grade 1, $679,000 Ruidoso Derby, a highly competitive field in the Grade 1, $600,000 Ruidoso Futurity and I’ll Have Another’s bid to win the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes promises to combine for one of the most memorable days of the summer racing season at Ruidoso Downs on Saturday, June 9.

First post time is 1 p.m. with free parking and free general admission. Additional Ruidoso Downs information may be found at www.raceruidoso.com. The latest up-to-the-moment updates on Ruidoso Downs racing are on Twitter; just follow Ruidoso Press Box (@RuiPressBox).

The 400-yard Ruidoso Derby, with the second-highest purse in the race’s 18 runnings, presents the confrontation between Ochoa and Feature Mr Bojangles, two of the three juveniles who earned championships last year and each of the horses won their titles on the strength of their Grade 1 futurity wins at Ruidoso Downs.

Ochoa was honored as the overall champion 2-year-old and the champion 2-year-old gelding after making each of his four 2-year-old starts at Ruidoso Downs, capped by dominating the Grade 1, $2.4-million All American Futurity by 1 1/2 lengths. The 440-yard All American Futurity is the world’s richest Quarter Horse race and has the highest purse for any race for a 2-year-old racehorse, regardless of breed, in North America.

Trained by Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Famer “Sleepy” Gilbreath, Ochoa was given a winter-long rest at Gilbreath’s Texas training facility and made his 2012 debut in the Ruidoso Derby trials on May 26. The Tres Seis-sired gelding finished a creditable second in his Ruidoso Derby trial with the fourth-fastest time of :20.204 for 400 yards. It was his first start since Labor Day and he figures to move forward in the Ruidoso Derby.

Ochoa is owned by Johnny T.L. Jones Jr.’s J Bar 7 Ranch, Monte and Katsy Cluck, and Doug and Shavon Benson.

Feature Mr Bojangles rides a seven-race winning streak after finishing a close second in his career debut in his Four Corners Futurity trial a year ago. The highlight of his winning streak is his half-length win in the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs back in July. He preceded that win by taking the Four Corners Futurity at SunRay Park and concluded his freshman season with a half-length win in the Hobbs America Futurity (G2).

The Feature Mr Jess-sired Feature Mr Bojangles won his Ruidoso Derby trial in his first start since October. His time of :20.157 is the third-fastest qualifying mark.

Feature Mr Bojangles is owned by R.D. Hubbard, Jim Helzer, SM Cattle Export Company and Jamie Dominguez.

Challenging the two champs are fastest-qualifier Executive Brass, winner of his latest three races, and second-fastest qualifier Dashing Spartacus, who won his maiden when he knocked off Ochoa at 30-1 odds in their Ruidoso Derby trial.

While Feature Mr Bojangles won last year’s Rainbow Futurity and Ochoa impressed in the All American Futurity, the entrants in the 350-yard Ruidoso Futurity will be pointing to these races after competing for the record $600,000 Ruidoso Futurity purse. If any horse wins the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities, then that horse’s connections take the $4-million All American Triple Crown Bonus.

Los Primitos’ Krash Cartel, trained by John Stinebaugh, made his career debut in the record 25 Ruidoso Futurity trials and responded with a very promising effort. The Corona Cartel son devastated his competition by more than four lengths and his time of :17.759 for 350 yards was the fastest time from 245 horses racing in the trials.

Krash Cartel will be facing the stakes-tested PJ Chick In Black and Pajarita Sita.

Fredda Draper and Denny Bowen’s PJ Chick In Black is undefeated from three starts for trainer Carl Draper and showed she could handle the jump to open competition in her Ruidoso Futurity trial. The $15,000 supplemental nominee quickly opened a clear lead over her rivals on her way to winning her trial by three lengths with the fourth-fastest time of :17.848.

The Desirio-sired PJ Chick In Black showed she was the best New Mexico-bred juvenile at Sunland Park this spring when she won the New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) by one length.

Joe Badilla Sr.’s Pajarita Sita, a daughter of first-year sire Pappasito, raced to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 West Texas Futurity and then easily won her Ruidoso Futurity trial by 1 1/4 lengths with the seventh-fastest time of :17.913.

The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, will be simulcast at Ruidoso Downs as part of the full wagering package on the entire Belmont Park card at Ruidoso Downs.

Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another should be favored to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won his classic battle with Alydar. To earn the Triple Crown a horse must win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

All that is between I’ll Have Another and the Triple Crown is the testing 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont Stakes and fresh 3-year-olds who have been pointed at the race.

I’ll Have Another was a 1 ½-length winner over Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby, and then he ran down Bodemeister in the Preakness to win by a determined neck. Bodemeister is not racing in the Belmont.