06/04/2008 11:00PM

Draper reloads starting with Heartswideopen


Trainer Carl Draper has experienced considerable Grade 1 success at Ruidoso Downs since 2004 and looks like he will continue to do so in this weekend's Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity and the Grade 1, $388,000 Ruidoso Derby.

In 2004, he sent out DM Shicago to win the All American Futurity, and the gelding then swept the track's three Grade 1 derbies the following summer on way to his world championship. Last year, Draper won the Grade 1, $2 million All American Futurity and the Ruidoso Futurity with the champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly Heartswideopen.

Heartswideopen makes her 2008 stakes debut and begins her quest to win Ruidoso Downs's three Grade 1 derbies when she starts as the prohibitive favorite in Saturday's Ruidoso Derby.

On Sunday, Draper saddles the two fastest qualifiers to the Ruidoso Futurity, Jess Significant and Misty Blue Mercedes.

Heartswideopen underwent knee surgery following her All American Futurity win, had a restful recuperation, and has returned in stellar form. After several bullet works, she made her 2008 debut in the Ruidoso Derby trials and won easily, by 1 1/4 lengths while under a tight hold by Larry Payne, who substituted for injured regular rider Oscar Hernandez.

"I didn't even turn the stick over. I just lightly tapped her twice," Payne said.

Hernandez is back aboard for the derby with the outside post position, the same post position she had in her All American Futurity win.

Heartswideopen's time of 19.628 seconds for 400 yards was the fastest of the four trials.

In the Ruidoso Futurity, Draper's runners Jess Significant and Misty Blue Mercedes will also receive considerable wagering attention.

Jess Significant, owned by Heartwideopen's owners, Manny and Javier Rodriguez, has won 3 of her 4 starts with a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1, $300,000 West Texas Futurity. She won her Ruidoso Futurity trial by a half-length in 17.666 seconds for 350 yards, the fastest time in 12 trials.

Misty Blue Mercedes has always been highly regarded by Draper and thought of as a filly who should progress with maturity. She made her career debut in the West Texas Futurity trials and finished a close second while qualifying for the futurity. She had equipment trouble at the start of the West Texas Futurity and finished last. She affirmed her trainer's confidence in her Ruidoso Futurity trial with a half-length win with the second-fastest time of 17.709 seconds.

The Wes Giles-trained Feature Ten will also gain attention in the futurity. He was second in the West Texas Futurity and then second behind Jess Significant in their Ruidoso Futurity trial.