The Racing Journal Logo

Huge weekend races close out Arapahoe Park season

August 15, 2013     E-mail this page to a friend!

Tangarae Farms's Lookingoodinatux wins the Silver Cup Futurity on August 3
(photo by Coady Photography)

Saturday stakes:

Top qualifiers attempt to break out in Mile High Derby

The fastest qualifiers to Saturday’s 400-yard, $70,000 Mile High Derby from the three trial races contested on August 2 have just missed out on glory in some of Arapahoe Park’s top futurity and derby races but could have their moment in the spotlight in the richest race of the season for 3-year-old Quarter Horses.

Carters Playmate turned the tables on horses who defeated him earlier this season to post the top time in the Mile High Derby trials. Ridden by Esgar Ramirez in the trials for trainer Shae Cox, he clocked :19.562 for 400 yards. On Saturday Russell Vicchrilli will be aboard the 3-year-old brown colt who was second in last year’s Rocky Mountain Futurity when beaten as the even-money favorite.

Fit for Glory, who was fourth in this year’s Rocky Mountain Derby, posted the second-fastest qualifying time of :19.644 in winning his trial, and trainer John Hammes said he thinks the 3-year-old bay gelding to be ridden by Debbie Freeman is now starting to live up to the potential he saw in the horse last year as a 2-year-old.

“He’s coming around pretty nicely,” Hammes said. “We thought a lot of him last year, and then things didn’t develop right. Right now he’s kind of back on track.”

Takin On the Fire, who was second in last year’s Mile High Futurity, was the next fastest qualifier in :19.713, and will have jockey Zacharie Kelsey aboard for trainer Jaime Martinez. Among other near-stakes-winners at Arapahoe Pak in the field of 10 are Im a Special Dip, second in this year’s Adequan Arapahoe Derby Challenge, and Agillion, second in this year’s Rocky Mountain Derby. Built Tuff Enough will try to return to the form that saw the Rudy Ramirez-trainee win this year’s Adequan Arapahoe Derby Challenge and last year’s Rocky Mountain Futurity.

Déjà vu in Spicy Stakes

The field of seven Colorado-bred fillies and mares for Saturday’s 1-1/16-mile, $40,000 estimated Spicy Stakes features last year’s winner, second-, third-, fifth-, and seventh-place finishers—Sorta Special, Sweet Dixie Van, Mile High Honey, Angel of the Wind, and Sandhill Lady, respectively. The other two runners are 3-year-old fillies—Lucci’s Prize, the winner of the CTBA Breeders Oaks in her most recent start, and Cruz’n West, third in the CTBA Breeders Oaks followed by a 5 1/2-length maiden win. Luis Rodriguez rides defending champion Sorta Special for trainer Monk Hall and owner Lynda Hall.

Sunday stakes:

Colorado 2YOs take on all-comers in Gold Rush

Like a family in the old American West, the Gleason family is circling the wagons in preparation for an invasion to Arapahoe Park for the Gold Rush Futurity. Six Colorado-based 2-year-olds, four of them trained by Butch, Tyrone, and Justin Gleason, will try to defend home turf against six out-of-state shippers in Sunday’s 6-furlong, $100,000 stakes race for 2-year-olds.

The Colorado contingent is headed by CTBA Futurity winner Fast But Furious, who is trained by Justin Gleason, and Silver Cup Futurity victor Lookingoodinatux, who will be saddled by Justin’s uncle Butch Gleason. Butch Gleason will also send out Maximus the Great, a maiden who was third in the CTBA Futurity, and his nephew Tyrone Gleason runs Get a Notion, who won his lone start in a maiden race at Arapahoe Park.

“When I was assistant [trainer] for my uncle last year everybody said the horses from California were going to whip us, but we beat them with a Colorado-bred by 10 lengths,” said Justin Gleason, referring to when the Butch Gleason-trained Get Happy Mister won the 2012 Gold Rush Futurity against a field of shippers.

The out-of-state contingent is led by Da Belldozer, who will be ridden by Ken Tohill and was third in the 5½-furlong, $75,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows in Iowa in his most recent start on July 20. In Iowa Da Belldozer was trained by Chris Hartman and will be saddled by Colorado-based trainer Kerry Kemper on Sunday. “Belldozer” is also the nickname University of Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell, and the sire of the Oklahoma-bred Da Belldozer is Da Stoops, who has the same name as the Sooners’ head coach, Bob Stoops.

“We’re a little worried about the altitude,” Kemper said. “Outside of that I think the colt has a real nice shot. That was a good race he was in in Iowa. These Colorado-breds have had a pretty good meet. I think we stack up good against them pretty well, but they’re on their home turf.”

Trainer Wesley Ward ships Big Blue Talent from Kentucky. Big Blue Talent, who will have Sebastian Madrid in the irons, was fifth as the favorite in the Prairie Gold Juvenile and won a maiden race at Churchill Downs in his prior start on June 28. Ward is scheduled to be in France on Sunday as his star 2-year-old No Nay Never, a winner at this year’s Royal Ascot meeting in England, runs in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville the same day.

Fast But Furious has already provided great memories for trainer Justin Gleason and jockey Don Lee Frazier as his June 16 maiden win at Arapahoe Park represented the first career victory for his trainer and the 2,000th career Thoroughbred win for his jockey.

“I couldn’t ask a horse at this time today to develop and come around to himself as well as he has at this moment,” Frazier said. “He’ll always have that special place. That’s quite a neat milestone I came upon, and he is a remarkable colt. As far as a 2-year-old goes he’s probably one of the most impressive young horses that I’ve gotten to be around in quite a long time.”

Trainer Butch Gleason said Lookingoodinatux could improve off his win in the Silver Cup Futurity with the addition of blinkers.

“He was having a little trouble coming down the lane trying to lug in [in the Silver Cup],” Butch Gleason said. “I put blinkers on him, and I think he’s going to run a lot better with blinkers. He likes them and seems a lot better.”

Get a Notion, who is trained by Tyrone Gleason and will be ridden by Russell Vicchrilli, is a half-brother out of dam Let Joy Reign to Osi Posse, the winner of the $150,000 Elge Rasberry Stakes at Louisiana Downs last year.

“You don’t always know what you have when you run them the first time, but I think he ought to pretty fair in here with them,” Tyrone Gleason. “He has a pretty good sister running, too.”

Hammes has many cards to play in Mile High Futurity

Trainer John Hammes qualified half the field for Sunday’s 400-yard, $130,000 estimated Grade 3 Mile High Futurity for 2-year-olds as five of the eight 2-year-olds he saddled in the August 2 trials made the field of 10 for the finals.

“You just don’t do anything different,” Hammes said about having five entrants in the race. “You try to keep everything going and not think about that.”

Hammes’ Midori N Smoke, the winner of this year’s Cherry Creek Futurity at Arapahoe Park, qualified quickest in :19.515.

“We knew when we first started at Remington that she was pretty good because the horse that outran her by a neck [Hes Relentless] had the fastest [qualifying] time for the Heritage Place Futurity,” Hammes said.

But Hammes said earlier this week that a setback may force him to scratch the 2-year-old bay filly that jockey Alex Baldillez, Jr., has been named to ride.

“She pulled a little check ligament and strained it, and so I don’t know whether I’m going to run her or not,” Hammes said. “She’s such a nice filly that you don’t want to take any chances.”

Hammes’ Lil Ms Money Bags, who was second to Midori N Smoke in their swift trial, qualified second-fastest in :19.609 and will have Vince Guerra aboard.

“She’s doing really well,” Hammes said. “She’s pretty small, but she doesn’t know it yet.”

Hammes’ Hardhitting Sawyer, who will be ridden by Alejandro Luna, qualified fourth-fastest in :19.915 with a second-place trial finish to New Mexico-shipper Bf Storm Chaser, who clocked :19.886 for jockey Omar Reyes and trainer Wesley Giles. Hammes will also send out trial winners Ikanshazoom, who will be ridden by Zacharie Kelsey, and Shroom, who will be piloted by Debbie Freeman.

Hold The Advantage goes for third Norman White Marathon

In the longest race of the season and one of the longest races in the United States, Hold The Advantage will attempt to win his third Norman White Distance Marathon over 1¾ miles on Sunday. The 8-year-old gelding owned by Mythical Stables, trained by Sharlot Martinez, and ridden by Michael Iammarino dominated the race with a $15,000 purse where horses compete for a $3,200 claiming price by 20 lengths in 2010 and 16¾ lengths in 2011. In almost Secretariat-like style in 2011, Hold The Advantage was 30 lengths in front turning into the homestretch. He did not compete in the race last year.

This year’s Norman White Distance Marathon features a full field of 12. Kick Rocks was second in 2012 by a neck to Casa O and will look to go one place better this year. Royal Okie competed in the race in 2009 and will be making his first start off a four-year layoff since that effort.

This Is Da One looks to defend Arapahoe Park Express title

Defending champion This Is Da One will try to repeat in Sunday’s 330-yard, $20,000 Arapahoe Park Express, which drew a full field of 10. Flavio Lozano rides the Lupe Chavez-trained 5-year-old gelding. Wave Good Bye Baby, the winner of the 330-yard, $15,000 Dash for Speed Stakes on Arapahoe Park’s opening weekend, also competes with Alejandro Luna aboard for trainer Jose Barron.