A Real Man Is Just That in Texas Classic Derby Trials

(Friday, November 15, 2002) - A Real Man, the American Quarter Horse Association’s top-ranked 3-year-old gelding, returned to action in style Friday night at Lone Star Park, posting the fastest qualifying time to the estimated $315,098 Texas Classic Derby final. The Oklahoma-bred, ridden by Larry Payne, ran the classic 440-yard distance in :21.361 – just seven thousandths of a second fastest than the swift filly Fast Regards.

A Real Man and Fast Regards were among 44 three-year-olds in five trial races vying for 10 sports in the Grade 1 final worth an estimated $126,039 to the winner. The final will be run at Lone Star Park in two weeks on Friday, Nov. 29.

The 10 finalists are A Real Man (ridden by Payne, trained by Eddie Willis, owned by Bill Price of Marietta, Okla., :21.361); First Regards (Jacky Martin, Jack Brooks, Ramich Farms of Topeka, Kan., :21.368); Dashing Prince Henry (Martin, Brooks, :21.421); Party Man Can (Donald Watson, owned and trained by W.O. Bergeron of Port Allen, La., :21.435); Gray Invasion (Mark Page, Tommy Zarate, Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas, :21.442); Dashin For Penny (G.R. Carter Jr., Rodney Reed, James Cordell of Houston, Texas, :21.458); Pretty Boy Perry (Payne, Guy Hopkins, Hitchin’ Post Farm of Arlington, Texas, :21.486); Mr Mallard (Alvin “Bubba” Brossette, Richard Smith, WPR Stables of Abbeville, La., :21.499); Fit To Fly (Martin, Brooks, Carol and William Smith of Claremore, Okla., :21.516), and High Strideing Hero (John Hamilton, Beverly McNeely, Warner Croft of Austin, Texas, :21.534).

Brooks and Martin teamed to qualify three runners: First Regards, Dashin Prince Henry and Fit To Fly. Payne rode two qualifiers, A Real Man and Pretty Boy Perry – the only other multiple-qualifier.

This year’s Derby trials ranked among the strongest in the 10-year-old race. The participants had earned in excess of $3.8 million, 12 had won more than $100,000 and 29 were stakes winners, including five Grade 1 champs.

A Real Man, winner of the Grade 1 Remington Park and Grade 1 Heritage Place Derby, made his first since finishing third behind Genuine Strawfly and Tres Seis in the Grade 1 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico on Sept. 1. Last fall, A Real Man won a trial for the Texas Classic Futurity, which began a streak of seven straight victories including three stakes wins.

“He gives you a good race every time,” Willis said of A Real Man. “He’s pretty easy. He’s capable of posting a quick time like that. I thought he’d do it tonight.”

Overall, A Real Man is ranked sixth on the current AQHA Racing Poll. He’s won 10 of his 21 starts and $212,595.

The filly First Regards will attempt a rare Dash For Cash and Texas Classic Derby sweep. Only Brooks’ charge Dashing Perfection doubled in the 3-year-old jackpot during his 1997 championship campaign.

“She usually really steps away from the starting gate and sometimes on the end she doesn’t finish great,” Brooks said. “She’s a light filly and sometimes it wears on her down the racetrack. But tonight, she got away late and came running on at the end. And that was against a bunch of really nice horses. I’m really tickled. She was really impressive at the end.”

Pretty Boy Perry will attempt to join his sire, Mr Jess Perry, as the only Texas Classic Futurity and Derby winners. Mr Jess Perry won the 1994 Futurity at Sam Houston Race Park and the ’95 Derby at the now-defunct Trinity Meadows.

“Up here last year, he ran two flawless races – the [Texas Classic Futurity] trials and finals,” Hopkins said. “He really looked good. When we ran the other day (Oct. 4 in the Dash For Cash Derby trials) and ducked up the gap (and finished last of 11), it was just one of those things. You can’t control that; you never know when something like that is going to happen. People worried about something being wrong with the horse, but the horse had trained real good coming up this race. He ran good tonight – and looked good.”

“We excited just to qualify,” said Pretty Boy Perry’s owner Buzz Post, who runs his horses as Hitchin’ Post Farm. “That was our goal. Once they get in the gate, then you want to win. We have a lot of faith and confidence in this horse. This horse is for real.”

A Real Man, Dashin Prince Henry and Party Man Can exited the second trial (Race 7). First Regards was the lone qualifier from the third trial (Race 8). Gray Invasion, Dashin For Penny and Mr Mallard earned berths in the final heat (Race 10). Pretty Boy Perry, Fit To Fly and High Strideing Hero qualified from the fourth trial (Race 9). No finalist emerged from the first trial (Race 6).

Prize money for the final is estimated to be distributed as follows: first, $126,039; second, $63,020; third, $34,661; fourth, $22,057; fifth, $15,755; sixth and seventh, $12,604; eighth, ninth and 10th, $9,453.

Times which ranked 11-20 earned berths in the $25,000 Texas Classic Derby Consolation. Those horses are Iowa Gold (:21.563); Run And Pray (:21.565); Gone Celebrating (:21.584); No Tools Required (:21.594); JEH Company (:21.597); Wildest Heart (:21.609); Moonshine Six (:21.678); Almost Flyin (:21.691); Indy Speed Meter (:21.702), and Royal Blue Chew Chew (:21.711).

Saturday’s Lone Star Park program will showcase 15 trials for the Texas Classic Futurity. That night of racing will begin early at 5:30 p.m. (CST). Gates will open at 5 p.m. (CST).

Both the Texas Classic Derby and Futurity trials are co-sponsored by TRACK Magazine, in conjunction with Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie and the Texas Quarter Horse Association.

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