Q-Racing JournalMarch 27, 2014
The rematch showdown between the two horses that won the three Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs last summer – champion Feature Hero and two-time Grade 1 derby winner Wicked Courage – is set for the $100,000 Leo Stakes (G1) at 400 yards on Saturday night at Remington Park.
Supporting the Leo Handicap on the program are fillies and mares racing in the $50,000 Decketta Stakes (G3).
Reliance Ranches LLC’s Feature Hero (Valiant Hero-Illegal Feature by Feature Mr Jess) was honored as the 2013 champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding while Andrew Smith’s Wicked Courage (Captain Courage-Wicked Pamela by Dash For Cash) was named the Ruidoso Downs’ Quarter Horse of the meet.
Feature Hero surprised at nearly 24-1 odds in the $2.8 million All American Derby (G1), which is the largest purse in American Quarter Horse racing history. The gelding made it into the All American Derby with the 10th-fastest qualifying time of :21.276. He made the most of his opportunity when he battled to a neck win and earned $1,180,784 of his career total of $1,377,573.
The Eddie Willis-trained gelding picked up an invitation to the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) with his All American Derby victory and shipped to Los Alamitos to compete in the 440-yard classic for older horses. He was a close third in the $25,000 Town Policy Handicap and then ran a creditable fourth at 26-1 odds in the Champion of Champions.
Feature Hero has the advantage of the Leo Stakes being his second start off a rest since the Champion of Champions in December. He started in the $77,000 Mighty Deck Three Stakes (R) at 250 yards on March 9 and made a late run to finish second as the 4-5 favorite.
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Wicked Courage raced to nine-straight wins, a streak that ended when he was second in his All American Derby trial. He then was seventh in the All American Derby on Labor Day weekend, his most recent start.
During his streak, he emerged as a stakes winner in Oklahoma, including the $51,000 Bob Moore Stakes (G2) at Remington Park last year, and vaulted to the top of Quarter Horse racing last summer at Ruidoso Downs with wins in the $822,603 Ruidoso Derby (G1) and the $1,055,000 Rainbow Derby (G1). They were record purses for each of those races and provide the bulk of his career earnings of $1,132,668.
Wicked Courage battled a 25-mph headwind during his Ruidoso Derby trial and reached the finals with the 10th-fastest time while the other finalists did not face a head wind. The gelding was sent off as the 17-10 favorite in the Ruidoso Derby and rewarded his backers with a neck victory. He then raced to the fastest-qualifying time to the Rainbow Derby with a :20.856 mark for 440 yards and concluded his winning streak with a length win at 4-5 odds in the Rainbow Derby for trainer Luis Villafranco.
Raymundo Medrano and Sammy Valeriano’s Jody Pops Zoomer (Zoomin For Bux-Jody Pops Lil Sis by Jody O Toole) returns in this challenging spot when he makes his first start since winning the $394,306 Texas Classic Derby (G1) back in November. He wrapped up his 3-year-old season by dominating his Texas Classic Derby trial by 1 3/4 lengths and then stepping up in the 440-yard derby to race to the early lead and then held on to win by a half length.
The Toby Keeton-trained gelding has won five of 11 starts coming into the toughest test of his career.
The 350-yard Decketta features the return of the always-dangerous Send Me A Candy Tree (Oak Tree Special-Send Me The Candy by Leaving Memories), owned and bred by Carl Pevehouse.
Send Me A Candy Tree makes her 2014 debut after winning the $55,000 Lubbock Stakes (G3) and dead heating for the win in a $40,255 allowance race in her final two 2013 starts.
The Clinton Crawford-trained mare thrives at Remington Park with six wins from 11 starts. Last year, she won a $27,000 allowance race. Back in 2011, she was third in the $780,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity.
Weetona Stanley’s homebred First Prize Shaunda (PYC Paint Your Wagon-First Prize Leesa by Mr Jess Perry) is in sharp form for the wide-open Decketta. The Stacey Capps-trained 4-year-old comes off a three-quarter-length win in a $35,000 allowance race at 300 yards. She won last year’s $50,000 Evangeline Derby and qualified for the 2012 $1 million Texas Classic Futurity (G1).
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