09/05/2011 8:28PM

Ruidoso: Ochoa dominant in $2.4 million All American Futurity

Ruidoso Downs
Roy Baldillez guides Ochoa to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $2.4 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.

Ochoa is just a 2-year-old, but he ran as if he understood the range of emotions his connections have experienced this weekend when he went out and dominated the Grade 1, $2.4 million All American Futurity for Quarter Horses at Ruidoso Downs.

He won the race by 1 1/2 lengths over Jess Send Me, while it was another neck back in third to Tee Cos.

The All American was the richest race ever run for Quarter Horses, and Ochoa was its fastest qualifier when he beat out 245 others for the honor Aug. 18. But the jockey who guided him to victory in the trials that day, Jacky Martin, was unable to team with Ochoa on Monday. Martin, a seven-time winner of the All American, instead has found himself in an El Paso, Texas, hospital after being paralyzed from the neck down in a spill on Friday.

“I thought all day, ‘Let’s do it for Jacky,’” trainer Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath said on TVG’s broadcast immediately following the All American. “He helped us tremendously with this horse. I’d give anything if he was here today.”

Ochoa seemed to understand the weight of the situation. The horse was the picture of composure on the busiest card of the meet, from the walk up to the paddock, to being saddled, to standing in the gate. He broke out a tad at the start in the race itself from post No 9, but straightened up quickly and ran through the lane like a seasoned professional, covering 440-yards in 21.05 seconds.

“The All American is the biggest thrill you can have,” said Gilbreath, the 64-year-old horseman who was winning the race for the third time Monday. He also took the race with On a High in 1983 and Refrigerator in 1990.

Roy Baldillez was aboard Ochoa ($5.20), who races for the Texas-based partnership of Johnny T.L. Jones Jr., Monte and Katsy Cluck, and Doug and Shavon Benson.

The horse’s connections decided to pass up the rich Rainbow series at Ruidoso Downs in July in order to concentrate on the All American. The first part of the plan came together when Ochoa set the race’s fastest qualifying time of 21.07. The rest jelled on Monday, when the gelding picked up the All American’s record first-place check of $1.2 million.

Following the race there was a brief inquiry, but it was concerning an incident along the inside in which 10th-place finisher Bills Last was forced out of a tight spot. The stewards disqualified Big Daddy Cartel, who finished eighth, and placed him 10th.

Ochoa was No. 13 in the All American Future Wager and returned $57.80. He also was part of an All American double with Llano Teller, who on Sunday won the All American Derby. The 5-9 double returned $118.20.

* Handle on the closing-day 12-race program from all sources was $1,506,200, with $624,961 of that amount bet on the All American Futurity. Attendance ontrack was 22,650.