RUIDOSO DOWNS, New Mexico (July 19, 2014) – Ellen Kennedy Living Trust’s homebred Houdini broke through with his first stakes win when he rallied on the outside to take the Grade 1, $1,048,682 Rainbow Derby on Saturday at Ruidoso Downs.
Houdini had been second in the Grade 1, $1 million Texas Classic Futurity, second in the $720,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity, second in the $50,000 Jack Brooks Stakes, third in the Grade 1, $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship and had a very troubled trip in the Grade 1, $2.6 million All American Futurity.
But, that’s all in the past now after scoring the Rainbow Derby victory.
“He’s not a bridesmaid anymore. He always ran good races, but never quite got the job done,” said winning rider Cody Jensen, who has now won five of the last nine Rainbow derbies. “This has been a very nice race for me.”
Houdini started from the outside post position and “he had a very clean trip,” said Jensen. “He had a little stumble that actually pushed him forward.” He took control of the race in the final 50 yards.
A gelded son of Valiant Hero, Houdini crossed the finish line one-half length ahead of Her O Don Won while Hes Relentless was another head back in third.
A Ruidoso summer campaign was always the year’s plan for Houdini.
“We came here for the big money,” said trainer Luis Villafranco, who is based in Oklahoma. “He came back bouncing from his trial. He’s just been super. I think he needed the trial.” He was the third-fastest qualifier at :21.376 for 440 yards after winning his trial by a head over champion Kates Dynasty.
Richard Scott’s runner-up Her O Don Won set the fastest-qualifying time of :21.323 for trainer Russell Harris. Another gelded son of Valiant Hero, Her O Don Won was second by a neck in last year’s Grade 1, $409,000 Dash For Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park.
Third-place finisher Hes Relentless, trained by Jason Olmstead, had a clean trip from the inside post position and was in contention until Houdini unleashed his final kick. The One Famous Eagle son was a close second in last year’s Grade 1, $1,075,000 Heritage Place Futurity, was fourth in the Texas Classic Futurity and qualified for the All American Futurity. He is owned by R.D. Hubbard, Tom Maher, William Maher and Johnny Cope.
Supporting the Rainbow Derby was the first running of the $100,000 Corona Cartel, won by Tammy Johnson and Jack Manning’s homebred Rock Princess.
In the 440-yard Corona Cartel, Rock Princess pulled off a stunning 35-1 upset win while prevailing over 10-1 outsider Winter Is Coming by a nose.
Cr Tuckernuck was neck back for third in a very tight finish.
Rock Princess, a Rock Solid Jess filly trained by Johnson, covered the 440 yards in :21.458 after winning her maiden just two starts ago in her ninth career out. She was third in her Rainbow Derby trial.
Down Side Magician overcame a troubled start to grab the lead and held his advantage until about 100 yards from the wire. The top-three finishers then rallied while Down Side Magician finished fourth, just a nose behind CR Tuckernuck.
Runner-up Winter Is Coming was second in the 2013 $85,000 All American Juvenile and was second behind J Bar in their Rainbow Derby trial.