07/21/2011 2:49PM

Ruidoso: Cold Cash 123 heavy favorite in $899K Rainbow Derby

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Cold Cash 123 came close to setting a track record earlier this month when he handily defeated two champions during trials for the Grade 1, $899,524 Rainbow Derby for Quarter Horses. It was a performance that will make him a strong favorite for Saturday’s finale at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico.

The Rainbow is one of the meet’s three major derbies. It has a record purse after being worth $873,441 a year ago, and its field of 10 includes Jls Mr Bigtime, the champion 2-year-old gelding of 2010, and Llano Teller, who in June won the Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby.

Cold Cash 123 drew into the toughest trial for the Rainbow on July 9, when he lined up against American Runaway, the champion 2-year-old of 2010, and Jls Mr Bigtime, who was second by a nose in last year’s All American Futurity at Ruidoso.

But the race turned into a showcase for Cold Cash 123, who powered past the field for a 2 1/4-length win. He covered the 440-yard distance in 20.76 seconds, not far off the 20.73 track record set by champion Strawkins in the 2006 Rainbow Derby. To further put the performance of Cold Cash 123 in perspective, the second-fastest qualifier for Saturday’s race, Bodacious Dash, won his trial in 21.07.

Cold Cash 123 is now 4 for 4 at the 440-yard distance of the Rainbow.

“He loves it,” trainer Sleepy Gilbreath said of the trip. “Actually, his deal is that if he can get away from the gate, the distance doesn’t matter.”

Cold Cash 123 will be seeking his third career stakes win Saturday. He accounted for the Grade 1 Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park last November, and also took the $150,000 All American Juvenile at Ruidoso in September. Roy Baldillez has the mount for T  Bill Stables.

Jls Mr Bigtime, who was one of 65 entrants in the Rainbow trials, finished third to Cold Cash 123. He brought a four-race win streak into the trials, and was the favorite in his heat. First Down Master, second to Cold Cash 123 in the July 9 trials, was a $40,000 supplement to the Rainbow Derby series, as was qualifier Giorgino.

Adding further depth to the field is Llano Teller, who will be seeking his fourth straight win Saturday. His streak began in a trial for the Ruidoso Derby. He then won the finale and his trial for the Rainbow, covering 440 yards in 21.17. G.R. Carter Jr. has the mount for trainer Heath Reed.