The final step to quarter horse racing’s ultimate event – the Grade 1, $3 million All American Futurity – arrives on Friday and Saturday at Ruidoso Downs with the All American Futurity trials featuring Ruidoso Futurity winner First Valiant Sign and Heritage Place Futurity winner Bv Midnight Express.
The 440-yard All American Futurity on Labor Day awards the largest purse of any two-year-old horserace in the world. The winner will receive $1.5 million. By comparison, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has never raced for a purse this large.
Of the 326 trial entrants, three of the horses entered in the trials will be scratched because they were not on the grounds at Ruidoso Downs 10 days before the trials. “It is a true misfortune that the connections of these horses must forfeit their All American dream,” Ruidoso Downs’ general manger Shaun Hubbard said. “However, when our integrity liaison Dennis Monroe asked for the horses to be presented, they were not on the grounds.”
The Ruidoso Downs rule states: “All horses entered in the Ruidoso Triple Crown Series (Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American) futurities and derbies must be on the grounds in the Ruidoso Downs’ barn area 10 days prior to the trials and must remain on the grounds throughout the trials.”
The 34 trials are spread over two days with a 10 a.m. first post time. There will be 17 trials each day.
The horses with the five-fastest times on each day qualify for the All American Futurity and the chance to become a quarter horse racing legend on Labor Day by winning the iconic race.
The non-qualifiers gain eligibility to the $200,000 All American Juvenile. The purse for the All American Juvenile has been increased from $100,000 last year. Preference will be given to the fastest times in the trials.
First Valiant Sign and Bv Midnite Express are among the top-three two-year-olds in the weekly AQHA Racing-Horseplayernow.com national poll. Bv Midnite Express holds down the second spot, however has never raced at Ruidoso Downs. First Valiant Sign is the third-ranked horse and has only raced at Ruidoso Downs. He won the Grade 1, $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity by a neck and has never been beaten by more than a neck in four starts.
Bv Midnight Express is the second-highest earning two-year-old this year with $550,372 and First Valiant Sign is right behind him in third place at $496,280.
Bella Vista Farms’ homebred Bv Midnight Express races in the 13th race on Friday while First Valiant Hero starts in the 12th race on the Saturday.
Bv Midnight Express has raced exclusively at Remington Park and concluded his four-race run at the Oklahoma City track with a one-half length win in the Grade 1, $1 million Heritage Place Futurity at 7-1 odds.
A gelding by Freighttrain B, Bv Midnight Express is a winner of three of those four starts with his only defeat coming in the Restricted Grade 2, $827,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Futurity. He finished sixth and was never a factor.
Regular rider Russel Hadley will be up when Bv Midnight Express starts from the eighth post position.
Also competing on the Friday are $50,000 supplemental nominee Undivided Atemption (first trial), $410,000 Oklahoma Futurity runner-up Big Lew (fifth trial), $621,000 Sam Houston Futurity runner-up This Is A Deal (sixth trial), $1,170,000 Heritage Place Futurity runner-up A Tres Of Paint (seventh trial), Ruidoso Futurity third-place finisher One Fabulous Eagle (13th trial) and $198,924 West Texas Futurity third-place finisher Tf Im That Guy (17th trial).
Owned by Scott Bryant, Joe Dee Brooks, R. Lee Lewis and Derrol Hubbard, First Valiant Sign should relish the 440-yard distance after showing an eye-catching kick at the end of his races at shorter distances
In the Ruidoso Futurity at 350 yards, First Valiant Sign had clear running from the inside post position while the horse in the second post position, Jess Burnin, bore out and was disqualified from second and placed last. First Valiant Sign won at 31-1 odds after a second-place trial finish. Jess Burnin races in the 15th All American Futurity trial on Saturday.
First Valiant Sign and Jess Burnin are stablemates from the Mike Joiner stable.
In the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity over 400 yards, First Valiant Sign was the 9-5 favorite and was bounced around at the start between the two horses next to him. The Valiant Hero gelding showed his courage with a big charge to get within a neck of Tres Friends and grab second place. Tres Friends will not compete in the All American Futurity trials because of sore shins, but is pointing to next summer’s Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs.
G.R. Carter Jr. will ride First Valiant Sign with the sixth post position.
Also entered on Saturday are $100,000 Remington Park Juvenile winner A Priceless Dash (fourth trial), $50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile winner Empty Arms (fifth trial), $380,000 Zia Futurity winner Im A Moon Quest, $50,000 supplemental nominee Nucky (eighth trial), Rainbow Futurity third-place finisher My Royal Wagon (10th trial), Ruidoso Futurity runner-up Fine Oak Corona (10th trial), Ruidoso Juvenile runner-up Not Holding Back (16th trial) and Ruidoso Juvenile third-place finisher I No Shes A Hot Mess (17th trial).
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