The tenth-fastest qualifier for Sunday's $2.8 million All American Futurity turned out to be the fastest of all on the biggest day of his career.

Feature Hero, who got into the richest race for 3-year-old quarter horses by finishing second in a trial heat here on Aug. 17, outdueled the fastest qualifier Bon Accord in the final yards under jockey Jimmy Brooks to win the 440-yard dash in front of a crowd of over 21,000 fans on the penultimate day of racing at the historic resort track.

Trained by Eddie Willis and racing for the Reliance Ranches Stables, the Texas-bred son of Valiant Hero broke well from the gate from post position 7. To the inside, railsitter and fastest qualifier Bon Accord, under jockey Rodrigo Aceves, showed the fastest speed from the gate and had a short lead midway down the lead.

Feature Hero wore down the leader inside the final 110 yards before proving best by a long neck, running the distance in a time of 21.56 seconds over a fast main track, and in the process, taking the richest prize ever awarded in the sport, a first place winners total of $1.18 million.

"We believed in this horse and are so proud of Eddie (Willis)," said co-owner Micah McKinney. "We weren't concerned that he was the tenth fastest qualifier. This is just the thrill of a lifetime."

Sent off as the second longest shot on the board, Feature Hero was dismissed in the wagering at odds of 23.90-to-1. His backers were rewarded with a return on their $2 investment of $49.80.

Bon Accord saved the place while being sent off as the co-second choice on the board, finishing nearly a length in front of another longshot Point Break Dash.

The morning line and eventual odds-on favorite in the Derby, Wicked Courage, who had his nine-race win streak snapped here when finishing second to Bon Accord in their trial race here, was never really a factor in the race and wound up finishing seventh at odds of 19-to-10.

Feature Hero has now won four times from 14 career starts. The win in the Derby increases his lifetime earnings to over $1.3 million.

Vancouver Moon finished fourth, with Elisas Secret, Wonderboy, Wicked Courage, Louisiana Corona, Tayte Me Down and The Magic Dash rounding out the order of finish.

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Seventeen-hundredths of a second sure doesn't sound like much of a dividing line between the two fastest qualifiers for today's $2.6 million All American Futurity, and in reality, it isn't much of a difference.

It was the circumstances under which those two runners achieved their respective times in qualifying for the world's richest race for 2-year-old horses of any breed that could prove to be the difference between picking a winner and a loser in the closing day feature at Ruidoso Downs.

Twenty-eight trial races were held over the course of two days, with the fastest five qualifiers from each day being guaranteed a stall in the All-American, the third and final leg of the quarter horse triple crown, which will go as the 11th race on a fine 12-race program set to begin at 12:30 p.m.

On Aug. 15, the undefeated filly Especially Tres was the fastest qualifier, running the 440 yards in 21.191 seconds, picking up her fourth straight win while racing into a 10-mile per hour headwind.

The next day, Wagon Tales was the fastest qualifier, running the same distance in 21.021 seconds, .17 seconds faster than Especially Tres. It is the common, prevailing opinion that a fifth of a second is equal to a full length. Wagon Tales' time was achieved while aided by the benefit of a slight tailwind.

Wagon Tales won his trial race from the 10 post. The Judd Kearl-trained son of PYC Paint Your Wagon is once again drawn in the outside post under Rodrigo Vallejo.

Especially Tres, the 7-to-2 morning line favorite, is drawn on the rail for trainer Blane Wood. The Texas-bred daughter of Dashair will be ridden by her regular pilot Ricky Ramirez.

For the horseplayer trying to decipher all this conflicting information, welcome to your challenge in trying to pick the winner of the 54th edition of the world's richest quarter horse race.

Especially Tres comes into the All American with arguably the best credentials. Boasting two wins over the local course as well as a decisive score last April in the Sam Houston Futurity in Texas, Especially Tres has won each of her four races by a combined margin of 11 1-2 lengths, which in quarter horse racing, is almost unheard of.

An earner of over $190,000 for her owner Jim Pitts, Especially Tres is one of four stakes winners in the All American field.

Wagon Tales, listed as the fourth choice on the morning line at odds of 6-to-1, is a three-time winner from five starts. Representing JNB Enterprises, he has amassed career earnings of over $165,000 while also owning a stakes win at Remington Park in Oklahoma.

Handsome Jack Flash and Skuze Pleeze are also previous stakes winners earlier this campaign.

Handsome Jack Flash won the Zia Futurity over this course in July for trainer Juan Gonzalez before finishing second in his trial heat behind contender Hes Relentless on Aug. 15.

Skuze Pleeze, who had his three-race win streak snapped when he finished second behind Wagon Tales the next day, will be ridden by Hall of Famer G.R. Carter. The Texas-bred son of Dashin Bye won the Easy Jet Stakes at Remington Park in June.

As if that group of contenders wasn't enough, there's the case of Houdini, winner in four of five starts for trainer Luis Villafranco. This same trainer, along with jockey Cody Jensen, are trying to record a race All American Futurity-Derby double, with the pair representing the Derby's morning line favorite Wicked Courage.

Post time for the Futurity is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. local time, with national television coverage being provided by the TVG Network.

The field, from the rail out, with jockeys and morning line prices, looks like this: Especially Tres, Ramirez, 7-2; Wagon Full Of Gold, Jay Conklin, 8-1; Handsome Jack Flash, Jaime Leos, 8-1; Houdini, Jensen, 5-1; Fatal Policy, Baldillez, 15-1; Skuse Pleeze, Carter, 12-1; Hes Relentless, Cody Smith, 9-2; You N How Many More, Rodrigo Aceves, 8-1; Regal Eagle, Larry Gamez, 5-1; Wagon Tales, Vallejo, 6-1.

The tenth-fastest qualifier for Sunday's $2.8 million All American Futurity turned out to be the fastest of all on the biggest day of his career.

Feature Hero, who got into the richest race for 3-year-old quarter horses by finishing second in a trial heat here on Aug. 17, outdueled the fastest qualifier Bon Accord in the final yards under jockey Jimmy Brooks to win the 440-yard dash in front of a crowd of over 21,000 fans on the penultimate day of racing at the historic resort track.

Trained by Eddie Willis and racing for the Reliance Ranches Stables, the Texas-bred son of Valiant Hero broke well from the gate from post position 7. To the inside, railsitter and fastest qualifier Bon Accord, under jockey Rodrigo Aceves, showed the fastest speed from the gate and had a short lead midway down the lead.

Feature Hero wore down the leader inside the final 110 yards before proving best by a long neck, running the distance in a time of 21.56 seconds over a fast main track, and in the process, taking the richest prize ever awarded in the sport, a first place winners total of $1.18 million.

"We believed in this horse and are so proud of Eddie (Willis)," said co-owner Micah McKinney. "We weren't concerned that he was the tenth fastest qualifier. This is just the thrill of a lifetime."

Sent off as the second longest shot on the board, Feature Hero was dismissed in the wagering at odds of 23.90-to-1. His backers were rewarded with a return on their $2 investment of $49.80.

Bon Accord saved the place while being sent off as the co-second choice on the board, finishing nearly a length in front of another longshot Point Break Dash.

The morning line and eventual odds-on favorite in the Derby, Wicked Courage, who had his nine-race win streak snapped here when finishing second to Bon Accord in their trial race here, was never really a factor in the race and wound up finishing seventh at odds of 19-to-10.

Feature Hero has now won four times from 14 career starts. The win in the Derby increases his lifetime earnings to over $1.3 million.

Vancouver Moon finished fourth, with Elisas Secret, Wonderboy, Wicked Courage, Louisiana Corona, Tayte Me Down and The Magic Dash rounding out the order of finish.