Darling Farms’ Rainbow Derby winner Hold Air Hostage, quarter horse racing’s number-one horse, comes off a dominating trial score to head the Grade 1, $1,365,907 All American Derby during a stakes-dominated program on Sunday at Ruidoso Downs.
Sunday’s unprecedented undercard is topped by the Grade 1, $200,000 All American Gold Cup with the earners of $5.8 million, the $100,000 First Down Dash and thoroughbred fillies competing in the $134,769 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity.
First post time is 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a 1 p.m. first post time on Monday, Labor Day. There is always free parking and free general admission at Ruidoso Downs.
Hold Air Hostage, trained by James Padgett II, moved to the top spot in the AQHA Racing National Poll for three-year-old and older horses after dominating the Rainbow Derby trials with his fourth-consecutive daylight victory. The 1-2 favorite in his trial, Hold Air Hostage pulled out to a three-and-one-half-length trial win and his time of :21.109 for the 440 yards was easily the fastest-qualifying time from the 13 trials. Regular rider Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo was aboard.
The Apollitical Jess-sired Hold Air Hostage deserved that strong support after his exhibition in the Grade 1, $1.15-million Rainbow Derby. He easily handled the solid Grade 1 field by one-and-three-quarter lengths as the 3-2 favorite with a :21.397 time for the 440 yards.
The winner of five of seven starts this year, Hold Air Hostage started his current winning streak with a one-and-three-quarter length win in the Grade 2, $297,000 Heritage Place Derby back in May at Remington Park.
Padgett will also be saddling second-fastest qualifier Duponte, owned by breeder Bobby Cox with Homero and Kristen Paredes.
Duponte has been among the best of his generation since he won the $268,000 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity early in his two-year-old season and then came back to win the Grade 1, $1-million Heritage Place Futurity at Remington Park.
A son of American Runaway with six wins from 13 starts, Duponte was fourth in the Rainbow Derby before winning his All American Derby trial by two-and-one-half lengths in :21.441, the equivalent of two lengths slower than Hold Air Hostage’s qualifying time.
Michael and Beth Harper’s The Marfa Lights shines this time of year. One year ago he ran a very game second to Imperial Eagle in the Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity. The One Famous Eagle-sired colt makes his first stakes appearance since the All American Futurity when he starts as the fourth-fastest qualifier to the All American Derby with a :21.501 qualifying time.
The First Down Dash is held for horses that did not qualify for the All American Derby and there was a shake (blind draw) between Magestic Eagle and Imperial Eagle, who were each timed in :21.646 and shared the 10th-fastest time, to determine which horse would race in the All American Derby and who would have top priority in the First Down Dash. Magestic Eagle won the shake. He races in the All American Derby while Imperial Eagle starts in the First Down Dash.
Charles and Christina Robinson’s Imperial Eagle won last year’s All American Futurity by a neck over The Marfa Lights. He then wrapped up 2016 champion two-year-old honors with wins in the Grade 1, $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship and the $200,000 Sunland Winter Juvenile.
An earner of $1.7-million, Imperial Eagle has come back this summer to win the $100,000 Mr Jess Perry before winning his All American Derby trial by one length under regular rider Esgar Ramirez.
Also racing in the deep First Down Dash are Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso dead heat winner Tough To Bee and four-time Grade 1 qualifier Apolltical Chad, winner of the 2016 $1-million Ruidoso Futurity.
Top-ranked Hold Air Hostage heads the All American Derby and the next three horses in the top 10 — Zoomin Effortlessly, Jessies First Down and Bodacious Eagle — compete in the 440-yard All American Gold Cup.
Telesforo Perrett’s Zoomin Effortlessly makes his first Ruidoso Downs start since defeating Jessies First Down by one length in last year’s All American Gold Cup. Zoomin Effortlessly then won the $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Championship.
A six-year-old gelding by Zoomin For Bux, Zoomin Effortlessly makes his first start in the All American Gold since winning the Grade 1, $250,000 Remington Park Invitational by a head over Jessies First Down on June 3.
Regular rider Santos Carrizales handles Zoomin Effortlessly from the fourth post position.
Ted Abram’s homebred Jessies First Down was honored as the 2016 world champion with eight wins and three seconds from 11 starts last year. He closed out the year with Grade 1 wins in the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap, $150,000 Zia Park Championship and the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park.
Two starts ago, the Fdd Dynasty-sired Jessies First Down won the $103,000 Bank Of America Sam Houston Challenge.
The winner of seven of his latest nine starts, Jessies First Down has the outside post position in the full 10-horse field. Regular rider Vallejo will be aboard for trainer Padgett.
Johnny Trotter’s Bodacious Eagle has been a warrior racing against the best horses of his generation. The One Famous Eagle-sired gelding comes off an impressive one-half length win in the $50,000 Higheasterjet Handicap after virtually jumping out of the starting gate.
The Trey Wood-trained Bodacious Eagle won the $50,000 Eastex Stakes and the $100,000 Leo Stakes in his two starts at Remington Park before the Higheasterjet victory.
Regular rider Ricky Ramirez gets aboard with the eighth post position.
The Rio Grande Senorita Thoroughbred Futurity features five fillies from the Todd Fincher stable.
Helen Nave’s homebred Comics Cashway, one of the Fincher fivesome, won the $45,000 Kendrick Futurity in her career debut, two starts ago. The Comic Genius-sired filly went to the lead and pulled out to a four-length score.
Fincher is also represented by two qualifiers to the $141,382 Mountain Top New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred Futurity — Gone Shoppin and Western Style. His other two horses are maiden winner Hennessy Express and maiden Donna Who.
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