Norma Alvarez, Brenda Alvarez and Debra Laney’s Handsome Jack Flash became the third New Mexico-bred since 1959 to win the Grade 1, $2,600,000 All American Futurity on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs.
The All American Futurity sports the largest purse of any two-year-old horserace in North America.
Previous New Mexico-breds to win the All American Futurity were champion Real Wind (1976) and By By JJ (2003). By By JJ was trained by Handsome Jack Flash’s trainer Juan Gonzalez.
Jaime Parga Leos got a sharp break on Handsome Jack Flash from the third post position and was immediately in contention with favored Especially Tres, racing along the rail. Reagal Eagle from the ninth post position got a clean break and Wagon Tales on the outside lagged behind the frontrunners.
Handsome Jack Flash, an 8-1 outsider, kept fighting for the entire 440 yards while Especially Tres yielded in the final 100 yards. Reagal Eagle made his bid in the final half of the race and Wagon Tales was moving strongly after breaking out towards the outside rail.
Handsome Jack Flash won by a neck over Reagal Eagle and it was just a nose back to third-place finisher Wagon Tales. Especially Tres was a neck behind Wagon Tales for fourth.
Handsome Jack Flash was timed in :21.166 for the quarter mile to earn $1,300,000. He has now banked $1,482,271.
“It was my first All American ride and I was nervous before the race,” said Parga Leos. “I settled down in the gate. My main concern was getting away well. Once we got to the lead, he just kept giving me all he had.”
Racing in New Mexico throughout his five-race career, Handsome Jack Flash won is first three starts against New Mexico-bred competition. He culminated the streak with a one-half-length win in the $409,000 Zia Futurity during the Zia Festival on July 28 at Ruidoso Downs.
A son of the New Mexico-based champion First Moonflash, Handsome Jack Flash made his first start against open company in his All American Futurity trial and finished second behind Hes Relentless after a very troubled start. His trial time of :21.209 was the third-fastest time on the first of two days of All American Futurity trials. A total of 280 hopefuls raced in 28 All American Futurity trials held over two days.
“Winning the All American for the first time is the best thing in the world. Now, winning it twice — just imagine,” said trainer Gonzalez. “There’s absolutely no words to describe it.”
The Alvarez family and Laney have been consistent winners on the New Mexico circuit.
“We strive to breed winners, basically,” said Norma Alvarez. “I didn’t know (we won) until I watched the replay three times. Then they did a slow-motion replay and that’s when I knew we’d won.”
Nahum and Rosella Prieto’s Reagal Eagle has been consistently successful through the summer at Ruidoso Downs for trainer Eduardo Gonzalez, brother winning trainer Juan Gonzalez. Rosella Prieto also owned New Mexico-bred All American Futurity winner By By JJ.
“I thought we had it,” said jockey Larry Gamez. “Wagon Tales was drifting out and I had a clear path. He's a great horse and I thought this would be my chance.”
Reagal Eagle, a son of One Famous Eagle, won his trial to the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity and his All American Futurity trial by one length. The $17,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase finished fifth as the 8-5 favorite in the Rainbow Futurity.
JNB Enterprises’ Wagon Tales, a son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon, has put together a sparkling six-race campaign for trainer Judd Kearl. At Remington Park this spring, he won the $100,000 Remington Park Juvenile and was a close third, beaten by a neck, in the Heritage Place Futurity behind Big Biz Perry and Hes Relentless.
Fourth-place finisher Especially Tres, owned by Jim Pitts and trained by Blane Wood, sustained her first defeat after four wins. She won the Sam Houston Futurity and then came to Ruidoso Downs and nearly broke the 350-yard track record while setting the top-qualifying time to the John Deere Ruidoso Downs Juvenile Challenge. Pitts and Wood elected to pass the Juvenile Challenge finals and go into the All American Futurity trials. The Dashair filly raced to a three-and-one-half-length trial win with the second-fastest qualifying time of :21.191 on the first trial day.
In the $85,000 All American Juvenile, for All American Futurity non-qualifiers, trainer Eddie Willis and jockey Jimmy Dean brooks stayed hot when One Valiant Hero raced to the easy win.
Willis and Brooks won the Grade 1, $2.8 million All American Derby with Feature Hero on Sunday afternoon.
One Valiant Hero dominated the field when he sprinted to the lead and then widened his advantage throughout the 440 yards to win by an easy one-and-three-quarter lengths. Winter Is Coming was second and Jess Sayn finished third.
A son of Valiant Hero, One Valiant Hero was timed in :21.423 for his second win from five starts. He won his maiden at first asking at Remington Park and was then fifth in the $325,000 Oklahoma Futurity.
A record 24,588 fans attended the All American Futurity, surpassing the previous record attendance of 24,106, set last year. A record 57,236 patrons attended Ruidoso Downs over Labor Day weekend.
A total of $1,710,040 was wagered on the 12-race card with $716,685 bet on the All American Futurity.
The Labor Day program concluded the 60-day summer season at Ruidoso Downs. The 2014 season starts on Memorial Day weekend with the trials to the Ruidoso Futurity and the Ruidoso Derby.