Updated on 09/16/2011 6:47AM

Badilla finally back in the saddle


Four-time national champion Quarter Horse jockey Joe Badilla Jr. will return to race riding with three mounts on Friday night at Los Alamitos after recuperating for six weeks from a broken jaw.

Badilla was named the 2001 champion jockey by the American Quarter Horse Association despite an injury-filled year, during which he also hurt his foot in an accident at Los Alamitos and injured his head in a serious spill at Ruidoso Downs.

"I had successful jaw surgery on Wednesday [Jan. 30] and I finally feel that I'm back to normal," Badilla said. "The doctors removed two plates from my jaw so my face felt a little tight for a few days. The swelling is now going down and I'm feeling a lot better with each passing day. I can't wait to come back to riding."

Last year, Badilla rode champions Tres Seis, Whosleavingwho, and Stoli to stakes wins. He won 17 stakes and 183 races from 925 mounts.

Love That Chapelle heads trials

All American Futurity finalist Love That Chapelle starts in the first of three trials to the Casino Cash Derby at Sunland Park on Friday afternoon.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from the 28 trial entrants will qualify to run in the 350-yard finals Feb. 24.

Love That Chapelle, owned by MJ Farms, had a solid summer at Ruidoso Downs, where she was second in the Grade 3 Rainbow Juvenile Invitational and sixth in the Grade 1 All American Futurity.

Four Corners Futurity winner Its Called Splash, riding a three-race winning streak, is in the second trial.

'Panther' probable for Winter trials

Panther Mountain, who concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a win in the $34,750 QHBC Juvenile Classic, is expected for the trials to the Grade 1, $200,000 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Saturday night.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from 400-yard trials return for the finals Feb. 23.

Panther Mountain, owned by Guy Weimer and trained by Chuck Treece, came out of small tracks in Montana last year to become a stakes winner at Los Alamitos. He won a 350-yard allowance race in a quick 17.53 seconds before being a prompt favorite in the QHBC Juvenile Classic.

In his only 3-year-old start, Panther Mountain was second in the Cypress Sophomore Handicap as the 3-5 favorite.

Also expected for the trials are Sunland Fall Futurity winner Babe Watcher, Kindergarten runner-up Dont Dink With Me, All American Futurity finalist Doc Colby, and Los Alamitos Million finalist One Fast Cartel.

National figures increase

The national figures for total purses and handle in 2001 showed increases for the fourth straight year, according to the American Quarter Horse Association.

Total purses last year reached $73 million, a 9 percent increase over 2000.

Total handle surpassed the $317 million mark, an 11 percent boost.

These increases are attributed to increased racing at Los Alamitos and a boost in purse funds from gaming in New Mexico.

The final 2001 statistics also showed increases in added money (12 percent), average earnings per starter (7 percent), average purse per race (7 percent), and number of races (2 percent).