Checkspeed Wins Wild West Futurity

Gelding earns rich payday at Los Alamitos.

October 21, 2012

The voyage that led J.P. Sample and Emily Lawrence to share the winning spoils of the richest running ever of the Wild West Futurity (R) on Saturday at Los Alamitos began with Sample’s purchase of a Hawkish filly named Voyage at the 2009 Los Alamitos Equine Sale.

The native of Tyhee, Idaho, bought the EG High Desert Farms-bred filly for $5,000 at the Equine Sale on an autumn day, and he enjoyed her so much that he started looking for Voyage’s mother, Speedy Speedette. What he found was that Lawrence of Palmdale, California, had purchase the mare for $2,000 from the EG High Desert Farms consignment at the 2008 Equine Sale. Sample reached out to Lawrence to find out more about the broodmare from the family of champion Speedy Empress ($494,714), Elite Empress ($110,212) and Elite Chick ($94,983).

“She had a foal sired by Check Him Out, and I liked Voyage so much that I wanted to be part of this horse,” he said. “She let me have a part of her foal.”

That foal turned out to be Checkspeed, who under the command of jockey Gregorio Arriaga and trainer John Wells, flew out of the gate from post six to score an impressive three-quarter length win in the $113,900 Wild West final at 350 yards. The gelded son of Check Him Out covered the distance in a speedy :17.377 while earning $47,838 for the win. The runner-up in The Plan Handicap in his previous start, Checkspeed broke his maiden with his Wild West victory.

“He broke super-fast and in no time at all we were already well ahead of the field,” Arriaga said. “He just ran a tremendous race.”

The 32-year-old jockey has made an impact in his first full year of Quarter Horse riding. Arriaga piloted his first major winner when guiding Twelve Stepper to win the $100,000 Spencer L. Childers California Breeders’ Championship Handicap (RG1). His winning mount aboard Checkspeed in the Wild West is an even bigger capture.

“I was riding in the fairs and I came with my boss to help with his horses at Hollywood Park,” Arriaga said. “I started coming to Los Alamitos and I got the opportunity to ride a little bit here. I’ve been so fortunate here and it’s been great to work with people like John Wells, who gave me a chance.”

Wells’ voyage has also been unique. The veteran was a leading trainer at Los Alamitos in the early 1970s before taking time away from the sport to work for Atwood Ranches. After more than two decades of being separated from Quarter Horse racing, Wells returned to the track and his victory with Checkspeed ranks as his biggest since coming back. When asked about his last $100,000 victory prior to the Wild West, Wells let out a laugh.

“It was probably like 50 years ago,” he said with a smile. “This horse broke cleanly and did everything right. We spent a lot of time with him and my assistant, Jose Hernandez, did an outstanding job with this horse.”

As for Voyage, the filly that set it all rolling, she enjoyed a productive career in the Intermountain region. From 13 starts, the daughter of Hawkish ran second in the Cassia County Fair Derby in 2011 after qualifying in the $35,000 Yellowstone Downs Futurity in 2010. She also competed in the $13,900 Portland Meadows Fall Derby and in the $10,000 Bitterroot Juvenile (R). Her career earnings of a little more than $5,000 now pale in comparison to Checkspeed’s bankroll, but her work on the track is the foundation of the partnership between Sample and Lawrence.

“We are now involved in a couple of other horses together from this family,” Sample added. “In Emily I have found someone that loves horses as much as I do.”

Robert Hickman’s Margaritas N Corona, who beat Checkspeed when posting the fastest qualifying time to the Wild West and also in The Plan Handicap, broke in and was far back in the early part of the Wild West. Ridden by Rodrigo Aceves for trainer Bret Vickery, the son of Corona Czech earned $19,363 for running second. Spackman Racing and Lin Melton’s Dynasty Red pocketed $13,668 for finishing third. One Famous Secret, R Forte, Eagle Nation, The Midnite Caller, BF Memory Lane, Jess Bet and Kool Baby completed the field.