Carter rides 4 qualifiers for All American Futurity

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

G.R. Carter Jr. rode four of the 10 Quarter Horse qualifiers in last weekend’s trials for the $3 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, N.M.

The Pawhuska jockey was aboard top finisher First Valiant Sign as well as the third-fastest qualifier, Jess Good Candy, during Saturday’s 17 trials. There also were 17 Friday trials, with the five-fastest horses from each day advancing to the Grade 1 race on Labor Day.

Ruidoso Futurity winner First Valiant Sign established himself as the probable favorite in the 440-yard event with a $1.5 million first-place prize — which is the largest purse of any two-year-old race in the world. First Valiant Sign easily disposed of his competition as the 1-2 favorite in Saturday’s 12th trial, which he won by on length in a time of 21.582 seconds.

In addition to guiding the powerful gelding favorite, Carter rode No. 3 qualifier Jess Good Candy — which was timed in :21.642.

“Jess Good Candy has been steady in his career and ran a great race,” Carter said of his No. 2-rated qualifier. “He’s a big, strapping colt.”

Owned by the estate of Carl Pevehouse and trained by Clinton Crawford, Jess Good Candy remained unbeaten from three starts with the nose win as the 11-10 favorite.

Friday qualifier One Fabulous Eagle had the fastest time of the weekend trials — clocking in at 21.452 seconds. He raced to his second win from three career starts with his one-and-three-quarter-length trial win. His only defeat came when he was moved from fourth position to third place in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity.

Carter also rode Sky Bo Dash (21.579 seconds) and Giving It All (21.662) to trial-race qualifications for the big race.

“I’ll get on all of them before the futurity,” said Carter. “But, it would be really tough not to ride First Valiant Sign.”

The Valiant Hero-sired gelding is just a neck away from racing for the $4 million All American Triple Crown Bonus that would be awarded to his connections if he would have won the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American futurities. He only shows two wins from his five starts, although that is deceiving. After winning the $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity, he was second in his Rainbow Futurity trial and qualified for the finals.

In the Grade 1, $1 million Rainbow Futurity, First Valiant Sign was bumped around between horses at the start and forced to make up ground. He showed his brilliant speed to rally only to come up a neck short and settle for second. It is that neck that is between First Valiant Sign and his opportunity to race for the $4 million bonus.

“I’m still so excited,” co-owner Derrol Hubbard said. “We knew we had a special horse and he is just a sweetheart. Most people don’t get one horse like this in their lives.”

Trainer Mike Joiner conditions First Valiant Sign and also trains fourth-fastest qualifier McClintock B (21.646 seconds). He was second in the fourth trial behind third-fastest qualifier Jess Good Candy.

The other 2015 All American Futurity qualifiers (and their times) included: Crooked Path (21.541), Tf Im That Guy (21.563), Hatefulist (21.596), Lethal Volcom (21.654).

The horses with the next five-fastest times lead the horses eligible for the $200,000 All American Juvenile. Among that group, Carter rode Jess B Heroic (21.704).

Since its inaugural running in 1959, the All American Futurity has been billed as the richest race in American Quarter Horse racing. In 1978, the purse was over a million dollars and in 1982, the winner’s portion of the purse totaled over a million dollars for the first time.

Carter, 47, is the all-time leading money earning jockey in American Quarter Horse racing history with more than $69 million in mount earnings. He has won more than 3,700 races in a career that started in 1986 when he was still a student at Pawhuska High School.

Carter has been named American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Champion Jockey a record 10 times. He has won the All American Futurity twice — in 1998 aboard Falling in Loveagain and again in 2008 on Stolis Winner.