Millions on line in closing weekend stakes

Steve Bortstein
For The Daily Times

RUIDOSO DOWNS — The eyes of the racing world will focus on the quaint resort town of Ruidoso Downs this weekend when more than $5.4 million will be on the line in two of the most prestigious quarter horse races in the nation are held at Ruidoso Downs Race Track.

Apolltical Chad, front, won the Ruidoso Futurity on June 12 and is the morning-line favorite for Monday's $3 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.

Monday's 58th running of the $3 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino — the richest race in the world for 2-year-olds of any breed — features a deep and talented field for the 440-yard race.

The $2.4 million All American Derby will have its 43rd running on Sunday. At the same distance as the Futurity, the All American Derby is richer than the Kentucky Derby, the sport’s marquee event for 3-year-olds.

Headlining the field for the Futurity is Apolltical Chad, winner of the Ruidoso Derby on June 12. Overall, Apolltical Chad is the eighth fastest qualifier for the race.

The 5-to-2 morning-line favorite for the Futurity, Apolltical Chad is owned by Nueve Racing, a group of nine owners from six states. The gelded son of Apollitical Jess is trained by Wes Giles and slated to be ridden by Adrian Ramos, who rode the Oklahoma-bred horse to victory in the Ruidoso Futurity. The Ruidoso Futurity is the first leg of the All American Triple Crown series.

Apolltical Chad has finished no worse than second in four starts. With earnings topping $426,000, he is the richest of the starters for the Futurity, which has a scheduled post time of 5:20 p.m.

Apolltical Chad will break from the eighth post.

Drawn right next to the morning-line favorite in post No. 7 is the Futurity's fastest qualifier, Charles Robinson's Imperial Eagle.

A three-time winner from five career starts, Imperial Eagle won his trial heat on Aug. 19 in a time of 21.49 seconds. Trained by Tony Sedillo, the California-bred gelded son of One Famous Eagle won his trial heat by nearly two lengths, easily beating his competition under Esgar Ramirez, who will be back on board in the Futurity.

Imperial Eagle has been installed as the third choice on the morning line at odds of 9-to-2.

One Hot Habit drew the rail for the Futurity, which will be the 10th race of an 11-race program, which has a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m. The inside draw might work to the advantage of the son of Walk Thru Fire, who won from the rail when he narrowly bested Apolltical Chad in trials on Aug. 19.

Owned by Turner Farms and trained by Paul Jones, One Hot Habit was soundly beaten in the Ruidoso Futurity. He is the fourth choice on the morning line at odds of 5-to-1 and slated to be ridden by Eduardo Nicasio.

Before the 2-year-olds take center stage in Monday's Futurity, the 3-year-olds will have their spotlight moment in the Derby on Sunday. The Derby will be Sunday's ninth race with a scheduled post time of 3:46 p.m.

Volcom Bay emerged as the fastest qualifier when trials were held for the Derby on Aug. 21, but has been installed as a 15-1 longshot for the finals. A four-time winner from 12 career starts, the Oklahoma-bred daughter of Volcom is still looking for her first stakes victory. She won her trial by more than two lengths, crossing the finish line in a time of 21.18 seconds.

Owned by Bennie and Teresa Jeter, she ran second in the Ruidoso Derby on June 11 to bring her lifetime earnings to more than $227,000. Volcom Bay, one of four starters in the Derby for trainer Judd Kearl, will break from the sixth post under jockey Jose Alvarez.

Favoritism in the Derby might fall on the shoulders of One Fabulous Eagle, a five-time winner from eight career starts and earner of more than $576,000. The son of One Famous Eagle just missed when finishing second to Jess Good Candy in the All American Futurity last year. The Texas-bred horse narrowly won his trial heat in a final time 21.3 seconds, making him the third-fastest qualifier for the Derby.

Owned by Darling Farms and trained by Eddie Willis, One Fabulous Eagle is the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite in the Derby. He will break from post No. 3 under Cesar Gomez.

Sunday's  program has first post time of noon.

Steve Bortstein hosts "First Sports" and "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 AM and 93.9 FM and on iHeartRadio. He serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park & Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.