First, if Ochoa can win the first-place check, he becomes the all-time leading money-earning quarter horse.
Second, the check, worth almost $1 million, is the biggest chunk of the largest purse ever offered a 3-year-old or older Quarter Horse. The entire purse is $2.2 million, which demolishes the previous record for the All American Derby and the former record for a 3-year-old or older Quarter Horse race, set in the 2010 All American Derby.
Ochoa has earned $1.6 million and the All American Derby winner’s share would skyrocket his earnings to more than $2.5 million. The current earnings record is $2.2 million, set by 2008 All American Futurity winner Stolis Winner.
And, just to consider, he was repurchased at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale at $25,000. Another $5,000 might have got him bought.
Co-owned by breeder Johnny T.L. Jones Jr.’s J Bar 7 Ranch with Monte and Katsy Cluck and Douglas Benson, Ochoa put himself in position to get the earnings record with wins in last year’s All American Futurity and this year’s Rainbow Derby, each at 440 yards.
Ochoa’s win in the All American Futurity earned the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old gelding titles.
The All American Futurity and Rainbow Derby wins were each at 440 yards and each were a result of a late-charging victory. But, they differed. In the All American Futurity, he simply sprinted away from the field to win by one-and-one-half lengths. In the Rainbow Derby, he charged between horses to get up and win by a scant nose.
After the Rainbow, his next start was in the All American Derby trials. The first three trials were run on a fast track and in the sunshine. Then it poured and Ochoa was in the eighth trial. Even with the rain and the off track, Ochoa shined. He won by two lengths and his time of 21.431 seconds was the sixth fastest time with each of the five faster times coming in the first three – and dry – trials.
Ochoa must earn the win, but he lines up against field of proven stakes horses.
Bill Price’s homebred fastest-qualifier BPS Jumpin Frisco won the first trial in 21.277 and put together a respectable stakes run at Remington Park this spring. He was a close second in the Mr Jet Moore Stakes and then raced to third-place finishes in the Remington Park Oklahoma-bred Derby and the Heritage Place Derby.
James Sills and Abel Flores’ A Toss Up is another Oklahoma invader. The gelding impressed when he won the Oklahoma-bred Derby and then stepped up and beat older Oklahoma-breds in the Sooner State Stakes. He continued his success against older horses at Ruidoso Downs when he was a close second behind JD Baccarat in the Higheasterjet Handicap.
Johnny Trotter’s Hez Our Secret became ill after qualifying for last year’s Rainbow Futurity and then was able to return last winter and race to a fourth-place finish in the in the Los Alamitos Two Million. The Blane Wood-trained colt scored his first win from three starts this summer at Ruidoso Downs when he finished on even terms with A Toss Up in their trial.