Updated on 09/16/2011 8:10AM

Ab What A Runner takes All American Futurity


The filly Ab What A Runner shot out to an early advantage and then held off late-charging longshot Eye Opening Episode and the previously undefeated Meteoric to take a three-way photo finish in Monday's $2.05 million Grade 1 at Ruidoso Downs.

Ab What A Runner was making only her third career start in the All American final after having qualified fastest in the in what was her first start in over two months. The filly set a new Ruidoso track mark for 440 yards that day with a clocking :20.993. The race favorite's final time over a track labeled sloppy Monday was :21.30, third fastest in the All American's 44-year history.

The filly earned a speed index of 101 in the All American final after putting up a pair of 109 speed index ratings in her two prior starts.

Trainer Bret Vickery brought Ab What A Runner to the Ruidoso trials following the filly's five-length runaway win in her career debut at Les Bois Park. For Vickery, Ab What A Runner's All American victory marked the high point in a training career that began in 1981.

"It's unbelievable, it's the best feeling in the world," Vickery said.

The trainer was confident heading into the final following Ab What A Runner's track record performance in the trials.

"She won her trial really easy and she bounced back so well I thought we had a real good chance of winning this race. There was so many nice horses though you just have to have all the breaks go your way and they went ours today, and we're real fortunate to have a great filly."

Jockey Jay Conklin was also confident going into the final but unlike the filly's owners, who were celebrating right after the field crossed the wire, wasn't sure he had won until his number went up.

"I knew I was at the wire but the outside horse was right with me and I'd seen Meteoric on the inside of me right there and I asked Clark [Jones] on the backside, 'did you get me?' and he said, 'I don't know.'"

Owner Dennie Hill, who turned down a $750,000 offer earlier in the week for the filly he purchased for $67,000 as a yearling, was jubilant after getting a victory in his first attempt in Quarter Horse racing's richest race.

"It's unbelivable, how happy we are. It was a really tough race today, the track was deep and muddy and the filly had to put it all out to win this deal it was so close. We're just thrilled to death and so proud of her and Bret and Jay, and the whole team. We're just thrilled to death."

The All American win was also the first for Vickery and Conklin.

By 1991 All American Futurity winner Royal Quick Dash out the Streakin Six mare Be So Merry, Ab What A Runner became the first Arizona-bred, and the 13th filly, to win the All American.

A slight favorite in the wagering over the John Bassett-trained sixth-place finisher First To Flash, Ab What A Runner returned $6.20 to win. Eye Opening Episode, the West Texas Futurity winner who went off at odds of 13-1, completed an exacta worth $116.40.

A holiday crowd of 17,009 were in attendance at the mountain resort oval.