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Return of 2-year-old stars; Darley nominees duel; Arapahoe Park Sprint preview

May 29, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

The top Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse 2-year-old fillies at Arapahoe Park last year will each make their 3-year-old debuts at the Aurora, Colorado racecourse this weekend. Thoroughbred Fast Puff is part of a full field of 12 for Saturday’s $40,000 Ingrid Knotts Stakes for Colorado-bred fillies and mares over 6 furlongs. Quarter Horses Midori N Smoke and Lil Ms Money Bags are entered in the same trial for the 350-yard Lucille Rowe Derby for Colorado-bred 3-year-olds on Friday.

Fast Puff won all three career races at Arapahoe Park in 2013 by a combined 20¼ lengths, including the CTBA Lassie by 10¼ lengths and the Silver Cup Futurity Filly Division by 1¾ lengths. Her trainer, Kenneth “Butch” Gleason, said it would be a tall order for the chestnut filly ridden by Luis Rodriguez to make her 2014 debut as the lone 3-year-old against a bumper field of older fillies and mares. Sorta Special, who won the Ingrid Knotts in 2012 and was second in 2013, leads the competition.

“It’s tough and they have to be pretty good to beat the older horses,” Gleason said. “She’s grown a lot taller and gotten a lot bigger because she was a little bitty horse last year. She’s got a lot of heart. It’ll be interesting.”

Midori N Smoke and Lil Ms Money Bags, both trained by John Hammes, won two of the three Arapahoe Park Quarter Horse futurities in 2013. Midori N Smoke captured the $86,000 Cherry Creek Futurity for Colorado-breds and has been away from the races since being scratched out of the $109,000 Mile High Futurity.

“We thought she might have had a little bit of a tear in her suspensory [ligament], but we kept taking ultrasounds and never could find it,” Hammes said. “Rather than take a chance, we shut her down for the year.”

Diminutive stablemate Lil Ms Money Bags picked up the pieces in the Mile High Futurity.

“She’s just like the little Mighty Mouse she’s always been and is training well,” Hammes said.

The other Arapahoe Quarter Horse futurity winner in 2013, Oh No U Didnt from the Rocky Mountain Futurity, is a finalist in Saturday’s $257,000 Grade 2 Heritage Place Derby at Remington Park in Oklahoma.

Darley nominees duel

Four horses nominated in four different divisions for the Darley Awards recognizing the top Arabian racehorses in the United States in 2013 are entered in Saturday’s fifth race. The 6-furlong allowance contest featuring a field of eight will serve as a prep for Arapahoe Park’s graded Arabian stakes races.

Ms Dixie, a six-time stakes winner, including the last two renewals of the COBRA Distaff Sprint at Arapahoe Park, won the 2013 Darley Award for top older mare. The 6-year-old gray mare owned by the Quarter Moon Ranch of Lori Long and trainer Scott Powell and to be ridden by Mike Luark was also a Darley Award winner in 2012 as champion 4-year-old filly. Kenny Massey’s Ttt Tiny Tina received a Darley Award nomination for top 4-year-old filly. Lacy Vaz was nominated in the 4-year-old colt or gelding division. Sammy V was among the nominees in the older horse division. Both Lacy Vaz and Sammy V are owned by Sam Vasquez and trained by Renee Lafleur.

Several in the field could be contenders for the COBRA Distaff Sprint on June 15 for fillies and mares and the COBRA Sprint on June 22—both $20,000 stakes races over 6 furlongs that have received Grade 3 status from the Arabian Jockey Club for 2014.

Arapahoe Park Sprint preview

The top-three finishers in the 2013 Arapahoe Park Sprint—defending champion No It Ain’t, his Temple Rushton-trained stablemate Sinaan, and 2011 Colorado-bred horse of the year Wally Van—will be part of a field of eight for Sunday’s renewal of the $40,000 stakes race over 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up. Manewal returns to Arapahoe Park for the first time since finishing second as a 2-year-old as the favorite in the 2012 Gold Rush Futurity. The Dwain Eaton-trained 4-year-old was claimed for $20,000 in his most recent start at Remington Park. Laugh At Life won an allowance race on Arapahoe Park’s opening day and will compete in the Arapahoe Park Sprint after just eight days between races.