|Texas Owned and Bred Leading Spirit
Still Unbeaten Rainbow Futurity Score
24, 2005) - Leading Spirit, a homebred gelding by the Special
Effort stallion Special Leader, kept his undefeated record intact
with a convincing one-length victory in the July 24, $625,000 Rainbow
Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs.
Under James "JJ" Gonzales II, who rode Leading Spirit
for owners Barry B. Thompson of West, Texas, and Dan and Jolene
Urschel of Canadian, Texas, and trainer Blane Wood, the gelding
went 400 yards on a fast track in :19.348, the second-fastest winning
400-yard clocking in the stakes' history, which dates back to 1964.
In addition to earning Leading Spirit a 101 speed index, the time
missed by 14/100ths of a second the track and stakes record established
last year by Thewayouwantmetoo.
Leading Spirit's Rainbow score also moved the gelding closer to
the Ruidoso Triple Crown Bonus, which pays a $4-million bonus to
the connections of a horse that can win the track's Grade 1 futurities
- the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American. No horse has swept Ruidoso
Downs' three major futurities since 1981, when world champion Special
Effort -- Leading Spirit's paternal grandsire -- won the Kansas,
Rainbow and All American futurities.
Leading Spirit will be pointed to the 440-yard All American trials
on August 18.
"As long as the horse is sound and ready to go, the $4 million
seems within reach," said Thompson, an AQHA Racing Committee
member. "The game plan has always been to take one race at
a time. Everyone knows that the All American trials will be the
most difficult task of all."
In addition to winning the June 12, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity,
Leading Spirit displayed his precocious talent when he won the Grade
1 West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park on April 3. In total, the
gelding has won seven of seven races, and he leads all 2-year-olds
in earnings at $694,616.
"He ran a great race today," said Wood. "He ran
straight, which is what we wanted him to do. He hooked up with another
horse on the outside and then just took off from there. He just
has the talent and natural ability to outrun horses."
The fastest qualifier and 2-5 favorite, Leading Spirit returned
a $2.80 win mutuel and teamed with PYC Paint Your Wagon, a 24-1
longshot, for a $44.40 ($2) exacta. Jax Ross, a longshot at 34-1,
completed a $250.60 ($1) trifecta. Shesnowlady, Texas Sixes, Painted
Silk, Crater Lake, Jess Maganette, Belvedere N Soda and Coco Corona
completed the order of finish.
The Rainbow, which was simulcast to several out-of-state sites,
including California, handled a total of $179,137, 20 percent higher
than last year's Rainbow handle of $148,955.
by Michael Cusortelli, www.aqha.com