Secret Courage Upsets SW Juvenile

Recent maiden winner shocks field of futurity winners at Zia Park.

November 25, 2012

In a field of eight that included the two big futurity winners this season at Zia Park as well as winners of major futurity races from Texas and Canada, recent maiden winner Secret Courage scored an upset in the 440-yard, $240,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship Stakes (G1) as the longest shot at 22-1 on Sunday at Zia Park. Owned by Francisco Acevedo and trained by Ramon Ronquillo, Secret Courage won by a neck with jockey Jaime Parga Leos aboard in a time of :21.664.

“I felt a little lucky to get into the race,” Ronquillo said, given that the Southwest Juvenile Championship had invitational conditions. “We hadn’t won a big race or gotten an invitation. When the (racing) secretary left the race open, I thought I would enter because he was a good horse. I told the owner we’ll give it a shot. He said go ahead and enter, and right now he is real, real happy.”

A Dream to Remember, the winner of the Hobbs America Futurity (G2) at Zia Park in October, was second as the 2-1 favorite. Sassmaster, who captured the Sam Houston Futurity (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas in April, finished third. Rockin Disco, the John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge (G3) winner in August, took fourth.

Secret Courage came into the Southwest Juvenile Championship as the most lightly raced of the eight 2 year-olds in the field. After two subpar efforts in futurity trials at Ruidoso Downs to begin his career, Secret Courage broke his maiden at Zia Park by 2 ¼ lengths on October 8. The bay Texas-bred gelding, who was bred by Burnett Ranches LLC out of the Special Leader mare Secretively, was then third in an allowance race at Zia Park on November 3 before Sunday’s upset. Secret Courage became the third stakes winner from the first crop of the Mr Jess Perry stallion Captain Courage, who finished third in the 2007 All American Futurity (G1).

“When he ran third he had a little trouble and he was a little sick, and I knew he had more,” Ronquillo said about Secret Courage.

Alejandro Medellin had ridden Secret Courage in that allowance race, and on Sunday Jaime Leos was back aboard after winning with Secret Courage in the October 8 maiden race.

“I think Jaime rode the horse perfectly,” Ronquillo said about Sunday’s race. “I think Jaime and the horse mesh real good.”

Secret Courage earned $115,200 for the win to add to his previous total of $19,990.

A Dream to Remember, who was second, was coming off a victory in the 400-yard, $300,000 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park on October 7. Ridden by G.R. Carter Jr. for trainer Paul Jones, the bay filly had the lead midway through the stretch before being passed by Secret Courage. In addition to the Hobbs America Futurity winner at Zia Park, the Southwest Juvenile Championship also included Dashin Ace, the winner of the 400-yard, $293,500 New Mexico Classic Futurity (RG2) for New Mexico-breds on Zia Park’s New Mexico Cup Day on October 28. However, Dashin Ace stumbled at the start and finished last.