Ted Abrams’ homebred 2016 world champion Jessies First Down heads seven 2016 champions that raced at Ruidoso Downs last summer.
The 10 2016 champions were announced on January 18 in Oklahoma City.
Jessies First Down also earned the champion aged horse and champion aged gelding titles.
The two other divisional champions also raced at Ruidoso Downs. They are champion three-year-old and champion three-year-old colt Ec Jet One along with champion two-year-old and champion two-year-old gelding Imperial Eagle. He was also the only other horse, besides Jessies First Down, to receive votes for world champion.
The remaining 2016 champions that raced at Ruidoso Downs are champion two-year-old colt A Revenant, champion two-year-old filly Coronas First Diva, champion three-year-old filly Volcom Bay and champion distance horse Coronas Boy.
Jessies First Down, trained by 2016 champion trainer Judd Kearl, was a stunning winner of a Ruidoso Downs’ allowance race in preparation for the Grade 1, $200,000 All American Gold Cup. He finished second in the Gold Cup and then won three-consecutive Grade 1 stakes to secure his world championship.
“Jessie has made racing fun for us again,” said Abrams. “He had trouble in the gates and in the 2015 Hialeah Maturity he figured it out. That was his turning point.”
Enrique Carrion’s homebred Ec Jet One was five-for-five in 2016 under Kearl’s care. He concluded his career and earned his championships with a one-half length win in the Grade 1 $2.4-million All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs.
Charles Robinson’s Imperial Eagle won quarter horse racing’s iconic event — the Grade 1, $3-million American Futurity — by a neck as the 3-1 favorite. The Tony Sedillo-trained gelding won his trials to the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities at Ruidoso Downs.
Owned by R.D. Hubbard, Johnny Cope, Ray Willis and “Butch” Southway, A Revenant made only four starts for trainer Mike Joiner, however he made the most of his opportunities. He won the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity and was second by a head in the Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity, his only 2016 defeat.
Sara Morgan’s Coronas First Diva made two starts at Ruidoso Downs for trainer Charles Shults. She confidently won her All American Futurity trial and then finished third in the All American Futurity after holding the early lead.
Bennie and Terri Jeter’s Volcom Bay won her trials to both the Ruidoso Derby and the All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs. The Kearl-trained filly finished second in the Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Derby and was fourth in the All American Derby.
Victor Diaz’s Coronas Boy started in the $50,000 Zia 870 Championship, his only out at Ruidoso Downs. The Martin Orona Jr.-trained gelding finished first, however was disqualified and placed eighth for interference.
Horsemen who compete at Ruidoso Downs fared well in the championship balloting.
Kearl was took the Blane Schvaneveldt champion trainer title. He won the All American Derby with Ec Jet One and the $1.2-million Rainbow Derby with Valiant Rogue. He qualified horses for each of the three Grade 1 derbies at Ruidoso Downs and saddled four horses in the classic All American Derby.
Esgar Ramirez won the champion jockey title. He became just the fourth rider to take the All American Futurity-All American Derby double.
Ruidoso regular Bobby Cox won the champion breeder title. The Cox-bred Duponte started in the All American Futurity trials. Cox is also part owner of the Josue Ponce-trained colt.
Trainers Denny Ekins and Russell Harris, who each recently retired, both won an AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award. They each competed at Ruidoso Downs.
The AQHA champion selection committee elected to grant special recognition breeders awards to Fredda Draper and Weetona Stanley. Draper, who lives a few miles from Ruidoso Downs, is the breeder of Imperial Eagle. Stanley bred Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity winner Apolltical Chad.
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