Hotstepper, a $63,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, would not be denied while defeating last year’s All American Futurity winner Fly Baby Fly in the Grade 1 $1,237,604 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday afternoon
The $100,000 First Down Dash, the race before the All American Derby, was taken by Intense Fire. Also at 440 yards, the First Down Dash is for three-year-olds who did not qualify for the All American Derby.
Owned by R.D. Hubbard, Johnny Cope, Ray Willis and Butch Southway, Hotstepper raced the 440 yards in :21.274 over a wet-fast track with Cody Jensen aboard. Jensen won the Grade 1, $200,000 All American Gold Cup two races earlier on the program.
It was Jensen’s second win in the All American Derby. Co-owner Hubbard and trainer Sleepy Gilbreath each recorded their fourth All American Derbies victories. Jensen, Hubbard and Gilbreath are members of the Ruidoso Downs’ Racehorse Hall of Fame.
“I wanted to give a big shout out to my headman Shawn,” said Jensen. “He made the difference. The horse started throwing his head in the gate. Shawn reach down and grabbed him and settled him down.”
Hotstepper got a clean break at the start and was immediately in contention. The gelding by One Famous Eagle charged throughout the quarter mile to get the neck win over the much improved Fly Baby Fly.
The gritty Pawpaws Paint fought between Hotstepper and Fly Baby Fly to finish third, a neck behind Fly Baby Fly.
“It takes a lot of work,” said Gilbreath. “We just let him do what he wants to do.”
Hotstepper has been a warrior at the Grade 1 level. He was a close second in the $874,000 Texas Classic Futurity and third in the Grade 1, $3,000,000 All American Futurity. He also qualified for the Rainbow Futurity and the Rainbow Derby. He became a millionaire with the All American Derby win. He has career earnings of $1,086,215.
“He’s qualified for all the dances and he got it done this time,” said R.D. Hubbard.
Hotstepper qualified for the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion Of Champions at Los Alamitos on December 15 with the All American Derby win.
Fly Baby Fly Partnership’s Fly Baby Fly raced to her best finish since winning last year’s Grade 1, $3,000,000 All American Futurity.
A daughter of One Famous Eagle and champion Higher Fire, Fly Baby Fly was second in her All American Derby trial, her highest finish before the All American Derby from four local starts.
Fly Baby Fly, a $180,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase, is trained by Trey Ellis and was ridden by Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo.
RH Resources Papaws Paint, a gritty gelding by Pyc Paint Your Wagon, is a small horse who fought valiantly between his two rivals. He is trained by Ruidoso Downs’ leading thoroughbred trainer Todd Fincher and ridden by Bonifacio Perez.
Papaws Paint was also third in the Rainbow Derby.
In the First Down Dash, Intense Fire — a 16-1 longshot — took to the wet-fast going and surged in the final yards to get the win under Omar Reyes. Hierarchy was neck behind in second and Believe Me Irene finished third, another one-half length back.
Intense Fire was timed in :21.429.
Owned by Raymond Merrill, Bobby Jack Merrill and Gregory Cullum, Intense Fire scored his first win since taking his Ruidoso Futurity trial more than a year ago.
A son of Walk Thru Fire and Ruidoso Derby winner Remember Me Rose, Intense Fire was a $70,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale purchase.
Intense Fire is trained by Clint Crawford and ridden by Omar Reyes.
Paragon Farms, LLC’s Hierararchy finished third in the Grade 1, $759,000 Ruidoso Derby. The Fdd Dynasty-sired gelding is trained by Blane Wood and had Ricky Ramirez aboard.
Diamond Racing Stables, LLC’s Believe Me Irene, a daughter of Valiant Hero, has close seconds in the Grade 1, $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship and the $200,000 Sunland Juvenile.
James A. Flores rode Believe Me Irene for trainer Marcos Carrizales.