Texas Owned and Bred Leading Spirit Still Unbeaten Rainbow Futurity Score

(Sunday, July 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


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