The undefeated two-time futurity winner Hustle Up pushed his record to five-for-five with the easiest of victories in the first of two trials to the $110,094 Rio Grande Senor Futurity over five-and-one-half furlongs at Ruidoso Downs on Saturday afternoon.
Also on the deep program were the trials to the $135,378 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity and the $20,000 Brigand Handicap.
The Senor Futurity is for two-year-old New Mexico-bred male thoroughbreds and the Senorita Futurity is run for two-year-old New Mexico-bred fillies. Each of the races contain $30,000 in purse money from the New Mexico Horse Breeders Association.
Quarter horses competed over 550 yards in the $20,000 Brigand Handicap.
The top five horses from each of the Senor Futurity trials qualify for the Senor Futurity on September 2. There were three Senorita trials. The top-three finishers in each trial are in the finals and there will be a blind draw between each fourth-place finisher in the three trials for the final qualifying spot.
Hustle Up, the 1-20 favorite, was billed as the star of the classy afternoon of racing and more than lived up to those lofty expectations.
Owned by Dale Taylor, B.J. McQueen and Suzanne Kirby, Hustle Up went to the lead out of the gate under and tight hole by jockey Tracy Hebert. The rider allowed him to find his stride while under a secure hold and the gelding kept pulling away. He had a four-length lead entering the stretch and then easily pulled out to a nine-length win with a firm hold. It was his largest winning margin, surpassing his seven-and-one-length romp in his in the $162,905 Copper Top Futurity.
“I kind of let him do his own thing, said jockey Tracy Hebert, the only rider to handle Hustle Up. “If I would have chirped, he would have gone on.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on one like him. As long as he remains sound and has no trouble, there is nothing here that is going to beat him.”
Hustle Up was timed in 1:05.30 for the easy win.
Under the care of trainer Todd Fincher, Hustle Up will be the strong favorite to score his third futurity victory in the Senor Futurity. The gelding by Abstraction easily won the Copper Top Futurity at Sunland Park and then came up to Ruidoso Downs to win the $123,000 Mountain Top Futurity by one-and-one-quarter lengths.
Also qualifying from that trial were Showtime Express, Off The Wagon, Trace Of Gold and Western Dancer.
In the second Senor trial, breeder R.D. Hubbard and Shaun Hubbard’s Sunscreen, the 3-5 favorite, raced between horses on the turn and then ran down pacesetter Diabolical Ruler in the stretch to gain the one-length win in a smart 1:04.30 with Elvin Gonzalez aboard.
Sunscreen earned his favoritism after finishing second to Hustle Up in the Mountain Top Futurity.
A gelding by Southwestern Heat, Sunscreen won his maiden in his debut for trainer Casey Lambert. He was then second as the 9-5 favorite in his Mountain Top Futurity trial.
Diabolical Ruler held second and also qualifying from the second of two trials were Scotty Who, Comic Hot Rod and Beau Wizer Image.
Fincher and Hebert also combined to win the first trial to the Senorita Futurity with Sam and Sammy Stevens’ Julie Who.
Making her third career start, Julie Who showed her class by pulling away from Roll On Matilda and Steaking Home. Roll On Matilda finished second and then was disqualified and placed third for interference in the stretch. All three fillies still qualified for the Senorita Futurity.
Those three fillies entered the stretch racing as a threesome and then Julie Who pulled out for the two-and-one-half length win in 1:05.61.
Julie Who, a daughter of Quinton’s Gold, was fourth in a maiden race at Sunland Park after racing six wide. She then went to Albuquerque Downs to win her maiden by a neck at five furlongs.
The fourth-place finisher in the first Senorita trial was MGM’s Victoria.
In the second Senorita trial, J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s homebred African Heat impressed in her debut as the 9-5 favorite. The Henry Dominguez-trained filly gained the lead soon after the start and showed she was easily the best horse in the race. She cruised on the lead under Enrique Portillo Gomez and won by four-and-one-half lengths while being timed in 1:05.28.
Gomez looked back at his rivals several times when he had a large lead and guided the first-time starter to the finish line.
Also qualifying from the second trial were runner-up Let It Roll and third-place runner Touch Me Ill Dance. Santita SS finished fourth.
In the third Senorita Futurity trial, run in rainy conditions, Dale Taylor and Suzanne Kirby’s Lesstalkmoreaction gave the combination of trainer Fincher and jockey Hebert their third win of the afternoon.
Lesstalkmoreaction settled off the early pace on the sloppy (sealed) track and then made a six-wide move past runner-up Shug’s Best and third-place runner Very Cherry.
The filly was timed in 1:06.36 and she defeated Shug’s Best by six lengths and it was another three lengths back to Very Cherry. Flight Song finished fourth while making her first start.
A daughter of Roll Hennessy Roll, Lesstalkmoreaction showed potential in her only other start. She took the lead out of the gate and then rolled to a six-length win in a Ruidoso Downs’ maiden race at five furlongs.
In the 550-yard Brigand, contested in a sudden heavy downpour with a 17 mph tailwind, Running J Running Horses’ Rock About It showed his delight at racing 550 yards by setting a new track record with a :26.327 time. The track was listed as wet fast.
The erased the previous track record on :26.340 set by Take The Mountain on August 5, 2010.
It was his third-consecutive win over the distance.
In Class was three-quarters-of-a-length back in second while Cobalt Creek finished third, one-half length behind In Class.
In his prior two starts at 550 yards, Rock About It won the $50,000 SLM Big Daddy Stakes and a $25,000 allowance race. Each of those starts came at Remington Park.
Trainer Tammy Kay Johnson had Jaime Parga Leos aboard Rock About It.
Rock About It’s three wins at 550 yards came in his latest five starts. His other two starts were against Grade 1 company in the $100,000 Leo Stakes and the $250,000 Remington Park Championship. His best effort in those two races was a fourth-place run in the 400-yard Leo Stakes.