Kearl shines with Ec Jet One in Derby

Steve Bortstein
Special to The Daily Times

RUIDOSO DOWNS — It was quite the day for trainer Judd Kearl.

Ec Jet One, ridden by Esgar Ramirez for trainer Judd Kearl, pulls clear of his rivals on Sunday in the $2.4 million All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino.

Saddling the winner Ec Jet One in today'sGrade 1, $2.4 million All American Derby would have been fine for any trainer.

Kearl, who started four horses in the richest Derby of any kind in the world, also saddled third-place finisher Brave Heart Won, as well as fourth-place finisher Volcom Bay.

Ec Jet One, ridden to victory by Esgar Ramirez, tackled leaders in the final 110 yards before inching clear of runner-up Celtic Emblem in the shadow of the wire to win by a half length.

The 3-year-old gelded son of The Louisiana Cartel was the second-fastest qualifier for the Derby when trials were held here on Aug. 21. That victory marked his first start over the course, which he verified with Sunday's victory in the Derby.

Sent off as the 5-to-2 post-time favorite, Ec Jet One ran the 440 yards in a final time of 21.49 seconds and returned $7 to his winning backers at the windows.

"He broke really sharp," Ramirez said. "When the gate opened, he was right there with (Volcom Bay). He bobbled just a little bit, kind of side to side, but I never felt him take a bad step."

Down the lane, it was A Fulton Classic, One Fabulous Eagle and Celtic Emblem battling for the early lead. Ramirez got Ec Jet One into his best stride halfway down the stretch.

"He was strong every single jump," Ramirez said. "(440 yards) is a mental thing. You have to wait for the final kick. I knew he was going to be stronger finishing than he was at the start.”

Sunday's win in the All American Derby is the eighth win from 10 career starts for Ec Jet One, and his third stakes victory. Earlier this year at Hialeah Park in Miami, he won the Hialeah Derby and the South Florida Derby. He is unbeaten in five starts in 2016, and has now amassed earnings over $1.36 million in his career.

“He's the king of Hialeah,” said Kearl. “He's a big happy horse. He's just a gorilla. He's just been super.”

Celtic Emblem had a slim lead in deep stretch, but was no match approaching the wire for the winner. Ridden by Ricky Ramirez, Celtic Emblem finished just a head in front of Brave Heart Won, who outdueled his stablemate and the Derby's fastest qualifier Volcom Bay for the third spot.

Behind Volcom Bay were Jess Envision, First Fancy Racy, A Fulton Classic, One Fabulous Eagle, First Valiant Sign and Boogies Special Dash.

Monday's closing-day program at Ruidoso Downs is headlined by the 58th running of the $3 million All American Futurity, the richest horse race for 2-year-olds in the world.

A field of ten will line up in the starting gate for the race, where the winning connections receive $1.5 million.

Apolltical Chad is the morning-line favorite in the Futurity. He won the first leg of the All American Triple Crown with his score in the Ruidoso Futurity in June, and he'll try for his third victory from five lifetime starts.

Imperial Eagle, the fastest qualifier for the Futurity, attempts to win his fourth straight race for owner Charles Robinson. Trained by Tony Sedillo, Imperial Eagle is 3-for-3 over the course.

The field, with jockeys and morning-line odds, lines up like this: One Hot Habit, Eduardo Nicasio, 5-1; One Famous Beau, Cody Jensen, 10-1; Magical Jess, Jaime Leos, 15-1; Koolnfamous, G. R. Carter, 15-1; The Marfa Lights, Larry Payne, 8-1; Coronas First Diva, James Flores, 7-2; Imperial Eagle, Esgar Ramirez, 9-2; Apolltical Chad, Adrian Ramos, 5-2; Volcoms Lady, Cesa Gomez, 20-1; Gamey Tee Cos, Mauel Gutierrez, 30-1.

Post time for the Futurity — which will go as the 10th race on the program — is scheduled for 5:20 p.m.

The closing-day program has a first post time of 12:30 p.m.

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. Follow him @fox1340am on Twitter.