07/18/2013 3:27PM

Ruidoso Downs: Wicked Courage shooting for ninth straight win in Rainbow Derby

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Gay Harris
Wicked Courage began his winning streak last September.

Wicked Courage will be looking to win his ninth straight race Saturday in the Grade 1, $1,055,000 Rainbow Quarter Horse Derby at Ruidoso Downs, and he could not have a better jockey for the task. Cody Jensen knows win streaks. He was the regular rider of Snowbound Superstar, the Quarter Horse who won 15 consecutive races between 2006 through 2009.

Wicked Courage began his streak last September. Jensen has been aboard for seven of the eight wins, missing a trial because of a severely broken collarbone. Wicked Courage, who is owned by Andrew Smith and trained by Luis Villafranco, comes into the Rainbow with the fastest qualifying time. He will break from post 4.

“The only thing harder than winning eight in a row is winning nine in a row,” Jensen said. “The percentages say you’re going to get beat. It happens to the best horses. But I would like to keep that streak going.”

Wicked Courage’s task was made easier Thursday morning, when trainer John Stinebaugh said champion Pj Chick in Black would be scratched from the Rainbow. Her defection makes for a field of nine in the 440-yard race that serves as the second leg of Ruidoso’s series of Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds. Wicked Courage won the first leg June 8, when he was up by a neck in the $823,000 Ruidoso Derby. He came back and won his Rainbow trial July  6, shuttling home by three-quarters of a length while covering 440 yards in 20.85 seconds.

“I think that was probably as good a race as he’s run for me, as far as him being just really professional all the way, from the gate to the finish line,” Jensen said.

“I think the biggest advantage he’s got is he’s a real true quarter-mile horse. It’s hard to get a horse that really wants to go the distance on the track. The further you go, the better he gets.”

Wicked Courage, who has won 8 of 13 starts and $596,933, began his streak at Will Rogers Downs, in a trial for a division of the Black Gold Futurity on Sept. 23. Jensen was aboard, and was a regular in the saddle up to trials for the Ruidoso Derby on May 25. G.R. Carter rode Wicked Courage that afternoon after Jensen was injured at Remington.

“I went down a week before the Ruidoso trial and broke my collarbone,” Jensen, 37, said. “It just so happened I was able to get to a really good shoulder surgeon. He put a plate and 10 screws in there, and I was able to get back quicker than most people.”

It was just 18 days after surgery that Jensen was back aboard Wicked Courage for the Ruidoso Derby.

As for Pj Chick in Black, she has been forced to miss the Rainbow after a trailer accident Monday in Texas led to her needing a few stitches in her shoulder. Stinebaugh said she was to return to Ruidoso over the weekend, and will point for trials for the All American Derby.

“She’s fine, healthy, 100 percent sound,” Stinebaugh said.