The Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath-trained pair of world champion Cold Cash 123 and champion 2-year-old Ochoa headed the five quarter horses who raced at Ruidoso Down last year and earned a 2011 championship title.
The 2011 champion quarter horses were announced by the American Quarter Horse Association on January 19 and were selected by a committee.
Also, Rainbow Futurity (G1) winner Feature Mr Bojangles was named champion 2-year-old colt, All American Derby runner-up Prospect To The Top was honored as champion 3-year-old colt and All American Derby trial winner Miss Racy Jess earned the champion 3-year-old filly title.
Bred and owned by Carolyn and Walter Bay’s T Bill Stables, Cold Cash 123 raced to his biggest payday when he won the Grade 1, $899,524 Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs as the favorite. An earner of $818,447 last year, Cold Cash 123 followed up his summer Ruidoso Downs’ campaign with grade 1 wins in the Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park and The Championship at Sunland Park.
A son of 2003 world champion Oak Tree Special, Cold Cash 123 was also named the champion 3-year-old and champion 3-year-old gelding.
Ochoa – owned by Johnny T.L. Jones Jr., Monte and Katsy Cluck, and Shavon Benson – has made each of his four career starts at Ruidoso Downs and he capped his summer season with a dominating one-and-one-half-length win in the Grade 1, $2,400,000 All American Futurity, the world’s richest quarter horse race.
The gelded son of Tres Seis won his maiden in his first start when he won his Ruidoso Futurity trial and then was a troubled third in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity. After his tough start in the 350-yard Ruidoso Futurity, Ochoa rallied to gain third place and showed he would be dangerous at longer distances with experience.
Ochoa’s connections decided to pass the 400-yard Rainbow Futurity and point at the 440-yard All American Futurity. He made a late run to win his trial as the 1-2 favorite and pulled away to win and become the sport’s top freshman.
Feature Mr Bojangles, a well conformed son of Feature Mr Jess, was a close second in his first start and then reeled off six-straight wins, including three futurities. The Roberto Sanchez-trained colt scored his most important victory in the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs and he also took the Hobbs America Futurity and the Four Corners Futurity.
In the Rainbow Futurity, Feature Mr Bojangles drew away from The Long Knife to win by one-half length.
Feature Mr Bojangles is owned by R.D. Hubbard, Jim Helzer, S/M Cattle Export Company and Jaime Dominguez.
Joel Tavarez’s Prospect To The Top first gained recognition when he qualified for the 2010 All American Futurity and he came back to Ruidoso Downs last summer to grain his grade 1 credentials during his championship campaign. The Ralph Muniz-trained colt finished fifth in the Grade 1, $702,896 Ruidoso Derby as the 2-1 favorite and was second in the Grade 1, $1,317,015, quarter horse racing’s richest race for older horses in 2011.
Prospect To The Top won the Grade 2 Hobbs America Derby and the Grade 3 West Texas Derby.
Burnett Ranches and Johnny Trotter’s Miss Racy Jess, trained by Blane and Trey Wood, showed she was ready for a fall run for a championship title when she won her All American Derby trial by three quarters of a length over grade 1 winner Givinitaroyaleffort. The Mr Jess Perry daughter moved to Los Alamitos after her All American Derby trial win to take the Grade 1, $935,350 Los Alamitos Super Derby and secure her championship.
Perennial leading Ruidoso Downs quarter horse trainer Paul Jones won the Blane Schvaneveldt champion trainer title for the 10th straight year. Last year, Jones-trained horses earned $4,705,577, nearly twice as much as second-leading money-earning trainer Gilbreath.
Ruidoso Downs regular rider G.R. Carter Jr. took the champion jockey title for the ninth time in 2011. His mounts earned $4,311,455 and he won the Ruidoso Derby aboard Llano Teller.
Jones and Carter are each members of the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame.