Charles Robinson’s Imperial Eagle scored a game win over The Marfa Lights in the Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity and jockey Esgar Ramirez became just the fourth rider to score the derby-futurity double in the same year.
Ramirez won the Grade 1, $2,415,084 All American Derby on Ec Jet One on Sunday afternoon.
The other jockeys to complete the double are Billy Hunt (twice), Juan Vazquez and Ramon Sanchez.
Imperial Eagle and The Marfa Lights, owned by Beth and Michael Harper, were expected to be among the late running horses in the All American Futurity and they put on an historic show. They went past Coronas First Diva about 100 yards from the wire and then battled on even terms to the finish line. Imperial Eagle prevailed by a neck with a :21.478 time for the 440 yards.
“I had a clean trip. My horse broke really good,” said Ramirez. “Everybody was hollering and he tried to beat the gate, but he still got a real good break. The six horse (Coronas First Diva) was in front of me a neck at most, and I asked my horse to keep going. The longer he goes, the better he gets.”
The top-two finishers are sired by One Famous Eagle, who became the second stallion to have four offspring qualify for an All American Futurity. All-time leading sire First Down Dash also performed the feat.
Sara Leann Morgan’s Coronas First Diva managed third, three quarters of a length behind The Marfa Lights. Ruidoso Futurity winner Apolltical Chad was just another nose back for fourth.
Imperial Eagle, a $48,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, earned $1.5-million for the narrow win. The Marfa Lights earned $450,000.
Trained by Tony Sedillo, Imperial Eagle showed his 440-yard capability when he won his All American Futurity trial by one-and-three-quarter lengths in :21.499, the fastest time from 15 trials on the first of two days of trials.
Imperial Eagle was moved up to second place in the $207,000 West Texas Futurity after multiple disqualifications. The gelding then won his trials to the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities. The All American Futurity win was his fourth consecutive win and first stakes victory.
“My parents, Christine and Leddie Sedillo, said you're gonna win it,” said Sedillo. “They were involved in the horse industry my whole life. They helped me and followed me everywhere I went. They were my biggest supporters since I started in this business. Every time I would get beat, they'd say, don't worry about it, you'll be back.”
Imperial Eagle’s dam, Jenuine Joy, is owned by Fredda Draper of Ruidoso Downs and she is the breeder of Imperial Eagle. Her husband, the late Carl Draper, was a two-time winning trainer of the All American Futurity.
Runner-up The Marfa Lights, a $145,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, ran a gallant race for Larry Payne and trainer Jim Helzer.
Helzer owned 1990 All American Futurity winner Refrigerator, who was the all-time leading money earner and is still third on the all-time leading money earning list at $2,126,309.
The Marfa Lights was making his fourth career start. After a fourth-place run in his debut, he won his Rainbow Futurity trial by one-half length and then stormed to a two-and-three-quarter-length win in his All American Futurity trial. His time of :21.510 was the second-fastest time on the first day of trials, just about a neck off Imperial Eagle’s mark of :21.499. “I had a pretty good trip except for the start,” said Payne. “My colt is a real nervous type colt, and when the horse next to him flipped (Koolnfamous) he spun his head around a little bit and kind of got a little off sync. We got him pointed back down the racetrack. I broke a length behind the four and the six (Coronas First Diva) and in this quality of race you can’t spot them anything. My horse ran real well on the end, he made up a lot of ground, we just couldn’t get the job done.
“He’s a great horse. They just got the best of us today. That’s horse racing.”
The colt has one of the premier pedigrees in quarter horse racing and with his strapping good looks, is one of the top stallion prospects in training. His dam is 2001 champion two-year-old Your First Moon. She has produced two-time champion Moonist and 2016 Grade 1 winner Moonin The Eagle. This female family traces directly to the Vessels Stallion Farm’s blue-hen producer Do Good.
Coronas First Diva was the highest placing filly with her third-place finish.
The daughter of Corona Cartel and champion Spit Curl Diva won the $440,000 Oklahoma Futurity and qualified for the $1-million Heritage Place Futurity at Remington Park on June 4.
Trainer Charles “Duke” Shults then waited for the All American Futurity trials with Coronas First Diva. She responded with a one-and-one-half length trial win in :21.500, the fastest qualifying time on the second day of trials.
In the $500,000 All American Juvenile for two-year-olds who did not qualify for the All American Futurity, J&M Racing and Farm’s Jm Mister Destiny simply ran away from his competition to get the one-and-one-quarter-length victory in :21.560 for the 440 yards.
After an especially clean start, jockey Manuel Gutierrez had an easy trip to the finish line to give Jm Mister Destiny his third-consecutive win,
Twig finished second by neck over favored Teller Baja.
Jm Mister Destiny has shown steady improvement this summer for trainer Paul Jones and Lisa Saumell, who runs Jones’ New Mexico operation. The Mr Jess Perry-sired gelding was a close third in his Ruidoso Futurity trial and then won his Rainbow Futurity trial by one length. The half-brother to two-time champion Fdd Dynasty also scored in his All American Futurity trial when he won by a neck as the odds-on favorite.
Rose Mary Chandler’s Twig won her maiden in her sixth start with a one-length score in her All American Futurity trial. Trainer Toby Keeton had Ramirez in the saddle.
Juan Medina’s Teller Baja was the most accomplished runner coming into the Juvenile with $379,058 in earnings, more than the rest of the field combined. The Teller Cartel-sired filly picked up the bulk of her earnings when she won the $888,000 Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Futurity. Jose Amador Alvarez rode for trainer Judd Kearl.
The leading older New Mexico-bred thoroughbreds raced in the $50,000 Ruidoso New Mexico Thoroughbred Championship while the leading state-bred two-year-old males met in the $152,974 Rio Grande Senor Thoroughbred Futurity.
D E Lover missed the Ruidoso Downs’ six-furlong track record by just .01 with a runaway victory in the Ruidoso New Mexico Thoroughbred Championship. He was timed in 1:08.81. Jack Wilson set the track record of 1:08.80 in 1992.
Tony Sedillo and Leroy Martinez’s D E Lover, the even-money choice, took the lead heading into the turn. He extended his advantage under Christian Santiago Reyes with every stride until he won by a dominating six-and-three-quarter lengths.
Golly Gee finished second by one-half length over Thermal.
Trained by All American Futurity winning trainer Sedillo, D E Lover cruised to his third-consecutive victory, all at Ruidoso Downs. He destroyed an allowance field over seven-and-one-half furlongs on July 4 and then secured his favoritism in the Thoroughbred Championship with a late-running one-and-one-half length win over Thermal and Golly Gee in the $50,000 Sierra Blanca Handicap on July 31.
In the Senor Futurity, Thunder Dome held safe a late-charging Another Brother to gain his first stakes win in 1:03.75 for the five-and-one-half furlongs. Happy Hennessy was three-and-one-half-lengths back for third.
Thunder Dome took the lead entering the stretch before Another Brother, the even-money favorite, mounted his late run.
An $8,000 Ruidoso Sale bargain, Thunder Dome is owned W.D. Carson Sr., M.H. Carson Jr. and Leach Racing, LLC.
Ricardo Jaime was up for the three-quarter-length win.
The Dome-sired Thunder Dome was second in each of his first two starts in maiden races. The gelding then came through for trainer Dallas Barton with a four-and-one-half length win in his Senor Futurity trial.
R.D. Hubbard’s homebred Another Brother was also second in the Mountain Top Futurity for trainer Todd Fincher. The Attila’s Storm gelding has two wins and three second-place runs from five starts. Glen Murphy was up.
The Fred Danley-owned and -trained Happy Hennessy, a gelding by Roll Hennessy Roll, scored his fourth-consecutive third-place finish. He was also third in the Copper Top Futurity and the Totah Stakes. Alfredo Juarez Jr. was the jockey.
The Labor Day attendance of 24,515 was the second-highest in Ruidoso Downs’ history. Last year, the attendance was a record 24,815. The four-day attendance on Labor Day weekend was 53,854.