RUIDOSO DOWNS — In just a tad bit longer than it takes the average human to blink their eye, therein lies the difference between a good day and a very good day.
Only five of the over 100 quarter horses who competed in trial races held Thursday at Ruidoso Downs for the Ruidoso Futurity will get a chance to move on to compete for the first of three legs of the quarter horse Triple Crown, what is considered by many to be an even more daunting task than the thoroughbred Triple Crown, which will see its final act play out in just 15 days at Belmont Park in New York.
Twelve trial races were held Thursday and twelve more are slated for today. The five fastest qualifiers from today's trials which get underway at Ruidoso Downs at 1 p.m. will be paired up with Thursday's fastest qualifiers for the $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity, which will be run on June 8.
Kiss My Hocks, by far the most accomplished of Futurity qualifiers on Thursday, kept his unblemished record intact with a romping score in the seventh trial of the day, winning by daylight in a very fast time of 17.281 seconds for 350 yards, the fastest time recorded on the day.
A Texas-bred colt by Tempting Dash owned by Maze Conda and Graham Tyler, Kiss My Hocks is trained by Toby Keeton and was ridden to victory in the trial by one of the all-time greats in the sport Cody Jensen.
Kiss My Hocks is now 3-for-3 in his young career, his most recent win coming in the Sam Houston Futurity last month. His win Thursday increases his lifetime earnings to over $230,000.
Less than 30 minutes after Kiss My Hocks secured his spot in the starting gate for the Ruidoso Futurity, JM Famous Master recorded what turned out to the second fastest time of the day, with an impressive win in the eighth trial of the day.
Owned by J&M Racing and Farm, JM Famous Master is a Kansas-bred colt by PYC Paint Your Wagon trained by Jose Muela. Ridden to victory by Alonso Rivera, JM Famous Master clocked in at 17.348 seconds, a time which stood up the rest of the day as the second-fastest final time on the day.
Muela and Rivera teamed up for two other winners on the card, including first race winner Eagle On The Fly and JM Onfire, neither of those winners ran well enough to qualify for the Rainbow Futurity.
Bodacious Eagle, winner of Thursday's second race, achieved the third fastest time on the day when he ran 350 yards in 17.382 seconds.
Owned by Johnny Trotter and trained by Blane Wood, Bodacious Eagle was making his career debut in his trial heat and looked good doing it, breaking alertly from the gate under Ricky Ramirez and winning as much the best.
The Oklahoma-bred gelding by One Famous Eagle appears to have a bright future ahead of him.
Madmax, the fourth-fastest qualifier on the day, won Thursday's fifth race for trainer Madilyn Watts and owner A. Wade Helton. A son of Foose, Madmax was bred in Texas and ran the 350 yards in a time of 17.448 seconds.
Jensen scored a trial win and a berth in the Futurity aboard Separate Dynasty for trainer Michael Joiner.
Bred in Oklahoma and owned by Billy Smith and Paul Blanchard, Separate Dynasty held on for a hard-fought win, getting the distance in 17.461 seconds, fast enough to earn the fifth and final spot in Thursday's trial heats.
A mere .002 second were the difference between qualifying for the Ruidoso Futurity and sitting the race out. Race 10 winner Duachais ran his trial in a final time of 17.463 seconds, missing a spot in the Futurity by what is equivalent to the typical amount of time it takes for the exposure of film in a normal camera.
Between Thursday's qualifiers and the five to come today, one of these ten qualifiers will move on from the Ruidoso Futurity to own the only chance at winning the quarter horse Triple Crown. Thus, it can be argued that the same mere thousandths of a second were the difference between being a very talented racehorse and immortality.