08/16/2011 10:38AM

Ruidoso Downs: Feature Mr Bojangles tops All American Futurity trials


Rise and shine, it’s trial time!

Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico has a special post of 9 a.m. Mountain on Thursday to accommodate 26 trial races for the Grade 1, $2.4 million All American Futurity for Quarter Horses. There are 252 runners vying for one of 10 spots in the finale, which will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 5.

Each of the trials will be run over 440 yards, with the fastest qualifiers to advance. The most prominent names in the entries include High Rate of Return, the nation’s second-ranked 2-year-old Quarter Horse; Feature Mr Bojangles, who in his last start won the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso; and Mighty B Valiant, the odds-on Rainbow favorite who seeks to rebound from a rare defeat in the first race Thursday.

Feature Mr Bojangles does not run until the 19th race, but will get good support off his Rainbow win July 24. He scored by a half-length after a less-than-ideal start which put the quick colt in the position of having to catch such rivals as eventual runner-up The Long Knife.

“About 100 yards from the wire we got past him and then he was coasting,” said Jacky Martin, regular rider on Feature Mr Bojangles.

Following the race, owners SM Cattle Export Company and Jaime Dominguez sold half-interest in the horse to Jim Helzer and R.D. Hubbard. Feature Mr Bojangles continues to be trained by Roberto Sanchez, for whom he has gone 3 for 4.

Feature Mr Bojangles will move from 400 yards to 440 on Thursday and the added ground should serve him well as Martin has called Feature Mr Bojangles “a true quarter-mile horse.” The pair will break from post 8. The chief threat could be Jls Party Wagon, winner of the Grade 3 Harrah’s Futurity at Louisiana Downs in March.

High Rate of Return runs in the 21st race Thursday. The race will be his first since May, when he won the Grade 1, $1 million Heritage Place Futurity over Mighty B Valiant at Remington Park. High Rate of Return, who is undefeated in three starts, is trained by Ed Hardy and will be ridden by Larry Payne.

Paul Jones, who is the nation’s leading trainer, will be the most active horseman on the card. He has 32 horses running in the trials Thursday, up from the 20 horses he had entered in last year’s 20 trials for the All American.