05/07/2013 4:08PM

Lone Star Park notes: Helzer back as a trainer


Jim Helzer’s most recognizable role in racing has been as the owner of Grade 1 winners Euroears and Joe Who, as well as the late Refrigerator, who until recent years ranked as the all-time richest Quarter Horse.

But on Thursday night at Lone Star Park, Helzer is returning to his roots. When the 4-year-old filly Alexandrathegreat runs in the second race, she will be Helzer’s first starter as a trainer since 1965.

“I started with a bunch cheap Quarter Horses in Colorado,” Helzer, 73, said of his early years training.

Helzer also raced at small Quarter Horse tracks in Texas before leaving the profession to establish a successful business outside of racing. He then focused on buying stakes-quality horses who he placed with outside trainers.

Helzer now has an 18-horse stable at Lone Star, a barn mostly made up of 2-year-olds he looks to race closer to July. Helzer also has a handful of older horses, like Alexandrathegreat and Six Dot Three, a 3-year-old filly who will run Friday night at Lone Star.

“I am training my own,” he said earlier this week. “I’ve just got too many head to put out to [trainers]. Right now, I’ve basically got all 2-year-olds and before I send them out, I’ve got to find out if they can run or not, if I should send them on out.”

Helzer has long taken such an approach with his Quarter Horses, developing the young runners at his personal training center for some 30 years before sending his more promising prospects to trainers at the track.

His involvement in racing also extends to owning commercial breeding farms in Oklahoma and Texas. Some of the 2-year-olds he has at Lone Star are by stallions who stand at those operations: C’mon Tiger, Dance Master, and Mr. Nightlinger. Helzer also continues to keep an eye on the market for the next Euroears, Joe Who, or Refrigerator.

“I’m still a buyer when a good one comes along,” he said.

Rider’s first winner pays $114

Apprentice jockey David Cabrera made a splash with his first career winner May 2, when his mount, Frequent Reward, paid $114.40. Cabrera guided her from last for a neck win over favorite Cash in Hand in the $7,500 claiming race for fillies and mares at Lone Star.

“They told me to send her to the front, but we got [stuck behind] and when we got to the stretch she was coming,” Cabrera said. “She did it all.”

The win came with Cabrera’s 30th career mount, according to statistics. He launched his career in March at Sam Houston, with the support of trainer Clinton Stuart, said Travis Church, the agent who represents Cabrera.

Cabrera is a 20-year-old native of Mexico, who came to the United States at age 14. He settled in Oklahoma because his uncle, the now-retired jockey Marcelino Rodriguez, was riding Quarter Horses in the state. When old enough, Cabrera went to work as a groom and later began galloping horses. Aside from his uncle, his riding influences include retired jockey Cindy Murphy, the former Cindy Noll who co-owns a farm Cabrera worked at in Oklahoma.

“He’s so excited about every horse, really pumped about riding them,” Church said of the mounts secured for Cabrera.

Even if they’re 56-1.