The Paragon Farms LLC-owned and Trey Wood-trained pair of Tough To Bee and High Plains Perry — two of the three finishers in an extremely close Grade 1, $800,000 Ruidoso Derby — return in a deep set of 11 trials to the Grade 1, $1,150,000 Rainbow Derby on Sunday afternoon.
The 440-yard trials fill the afternoon’s program. First post time is 1 p.m. with free parking and free general admission.
The horses with the 10-fastest times from the trials advance to the 440-yard Rainbow Derby on July 22 while the horses with the next 10-fastest times gain preference to the $100,000 Corona Cartel, also on July 22.
Tough To Bee finished in a dead heat for the win with Magical Jess in the Ruidoso Derby while High Plains Perry was just a nose back in third. Tough To Bee was timed in :19.925 for the 400 yards while High Plains Perry raced to a :19.927 time.
The Apollitical Jess-sired Tough To Bee will be in the first trial with the sixth post position. High Plains Perry drew into the ninth trial and starts from the second post position. Ricky Ramirez will ride each horse.
The Wood-Ramirez tandem qualified four horses for the Ruidoso Derby.
Tough To Bee is undefeated from three 2017 starts, including a win in the $61,000 Mr Master Bug Handicap at Remington Park, and has earned $277,080 this year. His career earnings stand at $505,726. He has five wins, two seconds and two thirds from 10 starts.
Last year, Tough To Bee raced to close third-place efforts in the Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity and the Grade 1, $1-million Texas Classic Futurity.
High Plains Perry is the horse that Ramirez chose to ride in the Ruidoso Derby and nearly gained the victory. The gelding by Mr Jess Perry had poor luck last summer at Ruidoso Downs, however stepped forward when he got to Lone Star Park last fall. He won his Texas Classic Futurity trial by three quarters of a length and then gamely won the Texas Classic Futurity by a head. He was then rested until winning his Ruidoso Derby trial.
Each of those two Paragon Farms/Wood horses faces Grade 1 competition in their trial.
Tough To Bee faces supplemental nominee Duponte in the first trial. Duponte’s connections — breeder Bobby Cox with Homero and Kristen Paredes — paid $40,000 to enter the trials.
Last year, Duponte won the Grade 1, $1,083,420 Heritage Place Futurity at Remington Park in June and then was second in the Grade 2, $384,615 Dash For Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park in October.
After a nearly seven-month layoff, Duponte returned in May to win his Heritage Place Derby trial and then finish fourth in the Grade 2, $297,100 Heritage Place Derby behind Hold Air Hostage, the other $40,000 supplemental nominee to the Rainbow Derby trials.
Trainer Judd Kearl named Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo to ride Duponte and they have fourth post position.
High Plains Perry faces a stern test from Nueve Racing’s Ruidoso Futurity winner Apolltical Chad, a $38,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase.
Apolltical Chad impressed last summer at Ruidoso Downs when he won his Ruidoso Futurity trial by a stunning two-and-one-quarter lengths and then showed his class with a head win in the Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity over eventual Grade 1, $1-million Rainbow Futurity A Revenant. The Wes Giles-trained gelding by Apollitical Jess went on to finish fourth in the Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity.
Regular rider Adrian A. Ramos gets aboard Apolltical Chad with the ninth and outside post position.
Darling Farms’ Hold Air Hostage makes his Ruidoso Downs debut in the fifth trial. The Apollitical-Jess sired gelding is on a roll with a conditioned allowance win, his Heritage Place Derby trial score and then a one-and-three-quarter score in the Grade 2, $297,000 Heritage Place Derby.
Another member of the potent Kearl barn, Hold Air Hostage has the fourth post position with Vallejo aboard.
Imperial Eagle and The Marfa Lights — the top-two finishers in last Labor Day’s All American Futurity — start in the Rainbow Derby trials and race at their favorite distance of 440 yards.
Charles and Christine Robinson’s Imperial Eagle prevailed in a duel with The Marfa Lights over the final 100 yards of the Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity at 440 yards. Imperial Eagle got the win by a neck as the 3-1 favorite.
Champion two-year-old Imperial Eagle, a $48,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, has earned $1,763,907 and appears in top form. After making his seasonal debut with a troubled third-place run in his Rainbow Derby trial, he came back to take the $100,000 Mr Jess Perry by a neck as the even-money choice.
Trainer Tony Sedillo starts from the sixth post position and regular rider Esgar Ramirez is the jockey.
Imperial Eagle will be challenged in his trial by Grade 3, $160,170 West Texas Futurity winner Wild Mares Milk, owned by J & SM, Inc. Wild Mares Milk won the West Texas Derby by a neck two starts ago.
Sergio Becerra Jr. rides Wild Mares Milk for trainer Fred Danley from the third post position.
Michael and Beth Harper’s The Marfa Lights, a $145,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, has earned $455,940 and looking to rebound a rough try in the Ruidoso Derby trials. He broke through the gate before the start and finished sixth as the even-money choice.
The long-striding son of One Famous Eagle drew out to a two-and-three-quarter length win in his All American Futurity trial before giving a strong challenge to Imperial Eagle in the All American Futurity.
Now a member of the Tony Keeton stable, The Marfa Lights drew the fourth post position and Larry Payne, who was up in the All American Futurity, has the mount.
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