Conda Maze and Tyler Graham’s champion Kiss My Hocks raced to his championship form with a one-half length win in the record Grade 1, $1,067,906 Rainbow Derby on Saturday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.
The purse was the largest purse in the race’s 51 runnings. Kiss My Hocks earned $448,521 to raise his career earnings to $1,143,461 and become the newest quarter horse millionaire.
Kiss My Hocks, the 5-2 second choice, was timed in :21.576 for the 440 yards.
Sam Crow, the 2-1 favorite, was second by another one-half length over Moonin The Eagle, who was disqualified and placed last. That moved Colbalt Creek up to third.
Kiss My Hocks hit the front of the gate before the start. “He was real quiet and then false broke,” said jockey G.R. Carter Jr., who scored his second Rainbow Derby win. “He hit the gate just hard enough for it to open. It’s not often that you see one false break and win.”
After the eventful pre-start action, Kiss My Hocks got a clean break and then showed who he was the best horse in the last half of the race. “I got into him a little bit,” Carter Jr. said. “He’s the epitome of confidence in a horse.”
A son of Tempting Dash, Kiss My Hocks was the epitome of his age group a year ago and appears to have regained that position in the older horse division. He was named the 2014 champion two-year-old and champion two-year-old gelding.
Nicknamed “Rooster,” Kiss My Hocks set a Sam Houston Race Park track record in his career debut and then won the Grade 2, $563,950 Sam Houston Futurity. Trainer Toby Keeton brought him to Ruidoso Downs. The colt promptly won the Grade 1, $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity and was a close second to Trendi in the Grade 1, $900,000 Rainbow Futurity.
Kiss My Hocks won his All American Futurity trial in August and then was off until the Ruidoso Derby trials on May 24. He did not live up to expectations in his Ruidoso Derby trial and finished fourth.
“I knew he was a little rusty and I was a little concerned,” said co-owner Graham.
Kiss My Hocks quickly rectified the situation when he won his Rainbow Derby trial by two lengths. Trainer Keeton immediately called the Ruidoso Derby trial performance a throw-out race. He was correct.
Kiss My Hocks purposefully walked onto the Ruidoso Downs’ track for the Rainbow Derby like he was ready to go to work and get a job done. “This year, he’s a pro,” Graham said.
Terry Baber’s Sam Crow also showed excellent conditioning by trainer Blane Wood when he went on the track. He battled with Kiss My Hocks, however came up short at the end.
A grey gelded son of Valiant Hero, Sam Crow earned his favoritism after winning his Ruidoso Futurity and Rainbow Futurity trials. He came into the Rainbow Derby off four wins in his latest five starts. His only setback was a third-place finish in the Grade 1, $2.6 million All American Futurity.
Two-time champion jockey Cody Jensen was making his comeback in the Rainbow Derby after sustaining six broken ribs and a fractured vertebra five weeks ago in an accident during morning training. He rode Johnny Trotter’s top-qualifier Bodacious Eagle, who finished in a dead heat for sixth. “I’m tired,” Jensen said after getting off Bodacious Eagle. “Other than that, I feel good.”
In the $100,000 Corona Cartel, for horses who did not qualify for the Rainbow Derby, Tf Cajun Cartel proved best in the final 100 yards of the 440-yard test to grab the three parts of a length win.
With Tanner Thedford aboard, Tf Cajun Cartel was timed in :21.831.
Absolut Power finished neck ahead of Smart Money First.
Tf Cajun Cartel, owned by trainer Fernando Carrete with Ascension Fernandez Jr., has thrived in races for horses who did not make the finals. He won the $50,000 Rainbow Juvenile and the $43,000 Dash For Cash Juvenile.
A son of Corona Cartel and Dashadee, Tf Cajun Cartel was a $35,000 purchase in the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.
Ronald Sugamusto’s Absolut Power, a gelded son of Stoli, qualified for the Grade 1, $385,000 Dash For Cash Futurity and was third in his Rainbow Derby trial for trainer Keeton.
Victory Farms’ Smart Money First was a close third in the $50,000 Jack Brooks Stakes in May at Remington Park for trainer Brian Muse.