09/03/2010 1:14PM

Apollitical Jess chases big payoff in All American Derby


The purpose of sending Apollitical Jess from California to New Mexico this summer was to win lucrative races such as the $1,548,076 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday.

He did that – emphatically – by setting the fastest qualifying time of 20.87 seconds in the Aug. 20 time trials. Now, Apollitical Jess has to do it again in Sunday’s final, the richest Quarter Horse derby in history, or the summer will be a disappointment for owner Rancho el Cabresto and trainer Juan Aleman.

“He was pushed pretty hard, but he has a lot of heart,” Aleman said of the time trial. “We’ll find out on Sunday if he can throw another monster race.”

Apollitical Jess is making his second appearance in a seven-figure race. Last December, he was second by a neck to Good Reason Sa in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

This year, Aleman took Apollitical Jess and five 2-year-olds from Los Alamitos to Ruidoso, with Apollitical Jess the focus of the small team.

“We took the gamble coming up here,” Aleman said.

Apollitical Time was 4-1 in the All American Derby trials and finished a half-length in front of 7-10 favorite Double Down Special, who won the West Texas Derby at Sunland Park in April and the Ruidoso Derby in June. Double Down Special qualified for the All American Derby – his trial time was 20.95 seconds – and seems to be the biggest threat to Apollitical Jess.

Aleman, 36, said he was encouraged that Apollitical Jess overcame a bump at the start of the time trial and still won.

“He was quick into stride,” he said. “He pulled away from them in the last 50 yards.”

In Sunday’s race, Double Down Special and Smokey Stone, who was second in the Rainbow Derby on July 24, are highly regarded contenders. The race features three runners from the 2009 All American Futurity − Shesa First Ratify, First Corona Cartel, and Favorite Cartel, who were second through fourth.

Callan Rocks, who won the fifth division of the seven All American time trials in 21.14 seconds Aug. 20, was entered in Friday’s session of the Ruidoso yearling and broodmare sale. She was entered in the sale well before the All American Derby trials.

The All American Derby is the first major final in which Callan Rocks has qualified.