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Ruidoso-based horses take championship titles

Amanda Greer


The 2013 champion two-year-old Handsome Jack Flash and 2013 champion three-year-old Feature Hero each scored their most important stakes victories at Ruidoso Downs last

Handsome Jack Flash made each of his five career starts at Ruidoso Downs for owners Norma Alvarez, Brenda Alvarez and Debra Laney. The First Moonflash-sired gelding defeated New Mexico-breds in the Restricted Grade 1, $409,434 Zia Futurity and then took horseracing’s largest purse for a two-year-old in North America when he won the Grade 1, $2.6 million All American Futurity on Labor Day.

Also honored as the 2013 champion two-year-old gelding, Handsome Jack Flash won four of his five starts and has earned $1,482,271. He was the leading money-earning quarter horse of 2013.

Reliance Ranches’ Feature Hero broke through at nearly 24-1 odds to win the Grade 1, $2.8 million All American Derby, the largest purse in quarter horse racing history, at Ruidoso Downs. It was his second win and only stakes win from eight starts last year when he added $1,290,050 to his bankroll under the care of trainer Eddie Willis.

Feature Hero was also honored as the champion three-year-old gelding. He received 10 votes while Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Derby winner and Grade 1, $822,000 Ruidoso Futurity winner Wicked Courage received nine votes in the champion three-year-old gelding voting.

Feature Mr Bojangles was named the champion aged stallion for his second championship. He was also the 2011 champion two-year-old colt after winning the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity.

In 2013, the R.D. Hubbard and Heysol Howlet-owned four-year-old started his championship campaign with third-place finish in the All American Gold Cup. He went on to secure his champion aged stallion title with a win in the Grade 1, $350,400 The Championship at Sunland Park.

Champion two-year-old filly Kates Dynasty made her first three starts at Ruidoso Downs with non-qualifying wins in her Ruidoso Futurity trial and her All American Futurity trial. She went on to win the Grade 1, $1 million Texas Classic Futurity for owners Billy Smith, Jerry Windham and Pat Guthrie.

Champion-three-year-old colt Brace For Bernal made his final 2013 start when he won his All American Derby trial while champion three-year-old Matabari finished third. Brace For Bernal won the Grade 2, $285,780 Heritage Place Derby and the $253,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby before moving to Ruidoso Downs for the All American Derby trials.

Matabari won an optional-claiming race at Ruidoso Downs before her All American Derby trial. She wrapped up her championship with a win in the Grade 1, $901,000 Los Alamitos Super Derby and a third in the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions.

People who are a strong presence at Ruidoso Downs every summer swept the champion owner, champion breeder, champion trainer and champion jockey awards.

The partnership of Burnett Ranches LLC and Johnny Trotter was honored as the champion owner. The partnership raced Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity winner Ms First Prize Rose and Grade 2, $425,000 PCQHRA Breeders’ Futurity winner Viva Mi Corazon.

The Burnett Ranches LLC, which is connected to the famed 6666 Ranch, is also the champion breeder. Burnett Ranches bred Wicked Courage and Grade 1, $910,000 Heritage Place Futurity winner Big Biz Perry, who competed in the All American Futurity trials. The 6666 Ranch was inducted into the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame in 2013.

Trainer Paul Jones picked up his record-tying 12th-consecutive Blane Schvaneveldt Champion Trainer Award. The 12th victory matched Schvaneveldt’s record. Jones maintains a stable at Ruidoso Downs every summer and it included champion aged stallion Feature Mr Bojangles. Last year, his horses earned $3,758,877. His New Mexico-based operation, including a large training facility in Tularosa, is managed by Lisa Saumell.

Jockey Cody Jensen returned from a broken collarbone sustained at Remington Park to ride at Ruidoso Downs 18 days later and went on to take his first champion jockey title. The two-time winner of the All American Futurity (2005-6) on Jones-trained horses, Jensen won the 2013 Rainbow Derby and Ruidoso Derby on Wicked Courage. He also rode champion aged stallion Feature Mr Bojangles to his only 2013 Grade 1 win.

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