The day after American Pharaoh won the thoroughbred Triple Crown, First Valiant Sign took the first step towards a possible quarter horse Triple Crown when he won the Grade 1, $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday.
“This is the year of the Triple Crown,” First Valiant Sign’s co-owner Derrol Hubbard said. “You gotta win the first one. We are very fortunate and very lucky.”
To win the All American Triple Crown at Ruidoso Downs, First Valiant Sign must now win the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity and the Grade 1, $3 million All American Futurity, which has the largest purse of any two-year-old race in the world.
If First Valiant Sign takes the All American Triple Crown he will earn $2,235,000 in purse money and the $4 million All American Bonus for a total of $6,235,000. American Pharaoh earned $2,640,000 for winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
The last quarter horse to win all three Grade 1 futurities at Ruidoso Downs was world champion Special Effort in 1981, four years after Affirmed won the thoroughbred Triple Crown. American Pharaoh was the first thoroughbred Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
First Valiant Sign had a great trip from the inside post position. “I got all I could ask for,” winning jockey Larry Payne said. “He left the gate honest and was right there (with the leaders). About halfway through I was still behind, but knew I had the winner. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but he was making up a neck or a half a side with each stride.”
A $100,000 purchase at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, First Valiant Sign earned $315,000 for running the 350 yards of the Ruidoso Futurity in :17.310.
“He’ll like more distance,” Payne said, referring to the 400 yards of the Rainbow Futurity and the 440 yards of the All American Futurity.
Owned by Hubbard with Scott Bryant, Joe Dee Brooks and R. Lee Lewis, First Valiant Sign finished a neck in front of Jess Burnin, who was disqualified and placed last for interference.
The disqualification moved Fine Oak Corona from third place up to second place and One Fabulous Eagle was moved up from fourth place to third position.
The disqualification cost trainer Mike Joiner a one-two finish. He trains First Valiant Sign and the disqualified Jess Burnin.
First Valiant Sign was 31-1 long shot, but his trainer was not surprised.
“In his training race, he ran green. But, he closed strongly,” said Joiner. “The one hole was the perfect place for him.
“We’ll see how he pulls up, but he is paid up in the Rainbow and All American futurities.”
First Valiant Sign raced at the astronomical odds after finishing second in his Ruidoso Futurity trial. The Valiant Hero gelding was the only finalist who did not win his trial and had the fifth and last qualifying time of :17.786 for the 350 yards on the day.
Jose Sanchez’s Fine Oak Corona had the quickest time on the same day of trials with a :17.648 mark.
A son of Coronas Prospect, Fine Oak Corona came into the Ruidoso Futurity with stakes experience. The member of the Paul Jones barn was fourth in the West Texas Futurity before winning his Ruidoso Futurity trial.
L. Salvador Martinez was aboard Fine Oak Corona.
Darling Farms’ One Fabulous Eagle, a son of One Famous Eagle, was a $75,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase. The Kasey Willis-trained One Fabulous Eagle won his trial by one length in his debut with the second-fastest time, :17.687, on the first day of trials.
Cesar Gomez was up on One Fabulous Eagle.
In the $50,000 Ruidoso Quarter Horse Juvenile, for horses who did not qualify for the futurity, it was the cliché quarter horse cavalry charge.
After a photo review of about five minutes, C. Denis and Julie Schoenhofer’s Genovese won his maiden with a head win over Not Holding Back.
Not Hold Back was neck in front of third-place finisher I No Shes A Hot Mess.
The top nine horses were separated by six heads and two necks.
The Gomez-ridden Genovese was timed :17.558 for the 350 yards.
Genovese, a $24,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, was the 44th-fastest qualifier on the second of two days of trials when she finished fourth, beaten by one-and-one-half lengths. The Mr Jess Perry-sired gelding from the Kalah Welch barn was sixth in a Remington Park maiden race. Those results made him a 24-1 shot in the Juvenile.
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