Oak Tree Special Blazes Way to Dash For Cash Derby

(Friday, October 3, 2003) - Four Grade 1 winners, including fastest qualifier Oak Tree Special, will go postward in the $191,300 Dash For Cash Derby on Oct. 17 after five trial races were staged Friday on the first of 33 nights of American Quarter Horse racing at Lone Star Park’s Fall Meeting of Champions in Grand Prairie, Texas.

A crowd of 5,507 – the second largest opening night in the last four years at Lone Star Park – watched 48 three-year-olds compete for 10 spots in the lucrative Grade 1 final scheduled for two weeks later. Joining Retama Park and Remington Park Derby winner Oak Tree Special in the finals are fellow Grade 1 winners Silvered Eyes, Snow Big Deal and Outdashing.

Oak Tree Special, owned by Raul Rubalcava of Wylie, Texas, recorded the fastest 440-yard time at :21.550. The Special Task colt, trained by Bobby Martinez, was ridden by J.R. Ramirez. The Texas-bred will attempt to become the fourth fastest qualifier to win the seventh running of the final, which is worth $76,520 to the victor.

“He likes that four-forty; that’s been his distance,” Martinez said. “When he felt like that, I thought he could go catch them. I’m pretty excited about it. It looked real impressive.”

The complete list of qualifiers: Oak Tree Special (:21.550, owned by Rubalcava, trained by Martinez, ridden by Ramirez); Snow Me (:21.619, James Helzer, “Sleepy” Gilbreath, J.J. Gonzales Jr.); Dazzling Reflection (:21.631, James and Marilyn Helzer, Gilbreath, Gonzales); Silvered Eyes (:21.649, Don Hill, Jack Brooks, Jacky Martin); Shes Jess Special (:21.664, Randel Brown, Chad Hassenpflug, Nickey Laws); Snow Big Deal (:21.670, IV In Texas Racing, Gilbreath, Roy Baldillez); Royal Streakin (:21.776, William and Carol Smith, Brooks, Martin); SLM Snowman (:21.792, Steve and Lindsey Mitchell, Heath Taylor, Gilbert Ortiz); Outdashing (:21.800, Leroy Bagby, Eddie Willis, Larry Payne), and Natural Task (:21.839, Henry Kennedy Jr., Mike Lyles, “Bubba” Brossette).

Two-time Dash For Cash Derby-winning trainers Jack Brooks and “Sleepy” Gilbreath each qualified multiple horses. Brooks, who won the event with champions Dashing Perfection (1997) and First Regards (2002), has Silvered Eyes and Royal Streakin. Gilbreath will saddle the trio of Snow Me, Dazzling Reflection and Snow Big Deal after winning previous runnings with Showcase Six (1998) and Significant Speed (2000).

Snow Me and Dazzling Reflection with run as a Jim and Marilyn Helzer-owned entry.

“This horse started out really good as a two-year-old and then he got really sore,” Jim Helzer said of Snow Me. “We put him back in training again late last fall and he just bloomed from then and it looks like he’s getting better as each day goes on.”

The lone filly in the field is Shes Jess Special.

Silvered Eyes could join Pivotal Decision (2000-01) as the only other Quarter Horse to sweep both the Dash For Cash Futurity and Derby.

“He really stepped away real good,” said Silvered Eyes’ jockey Jacky Martin. “He made the lead out there so easy, he kind of got to loping on me the last part of it, wanting to get in pretty bad. He does that when he gets out by himself sometimes; he kind of loses concentration and really quits trying. But he really stepped away from the gates probably better than he has any race this year. The last fifty or sixty yards, he saw him and probably heard him right there and he kind of pinned his ears and wanted to run off with me the rest of the way around the turn.”

Added Brooks: “This colt ran a good race tonight. He got sick before the All American trials. We went ahead and ran him and we probably shouldn’t have. It knocked him out just a little bit. But he ran a good race tonight. It looked like he came back good.”

Brooks also was encouraged by Royal Streakin.

“This has been a super horse from the early two-year-old year,” Brooks said. “He ran second in the first futurity and we thought he was one of the better colts we had. He just didn’t pan out to keep running. We pulled a suspensory on him that took a long time and he’s better right now than he’s been. He ran a big race on the end is what we liked. He kept running on this end and that’s what has been a little bit of a problem with the suspensory problem, he wouldn’t finish like we’d want him to. Today he did.”

Friday’s opener also included the seventh running of the $25,000 B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap, a 400-yard dash for Texas-breds. The restricted Grade 3 affair went to 13-1 longshot Hesa Lil Bit High, who defeated 23-1 outsider Midnitraintogeorgia by a nose in :19.981. Jerry Lee Yoakum rode the winner for owners Bernadine and Gordon Haslam of Colchester, Vt. and trainer Jesse Yoakum, his father.

“He left real good tonight and he ran a whole race tonight,” the jockey said. “Usually, he either leaves good and stops or gets left and comes flying, but he ran the whole race tonight. I think us gelding him right before he won those two in a row helped him a bunch. It made a different horse out of him.”

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