LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen June  19, 2024


It was a very memorable start of the Harrah's Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet for two young trainers on Saturday, January 4. Ray Mayo and Jose Carrizales both scored their first career stakes victory, saddling the winners of the $15,000 Harrah's Dash, which was split into two divisions on the opening day card.

Ray Mayo

Ray Mayo rode professionally for 9 years and was one of the most respected 870-yard riders in the region. At the urging of his family, he retired from the saddle and began training three years ago.

In the second division of the Harrah's Dash, Mayo,33, won his first stakes as a conditioner when Peyton's Last Dash dominated his eight rivals. Claimed last July at Delta Downs for $10,000 by owner Rosendo Valdez, the 4-year-old gelded son of Heza Fast Dash made his first start off the layoff in fine form under jockey John Hamilton.

"I wanted to give him a break and bring him back freshened," said Mayo. "As a former jockey, I felt that John would fit him well. He gave him a perfect ride; never touched his stick. It was a great win for us!"

He and Hamilton were close friends when they rode in Louisiana, and the veteran rider was happy to pilot the first stakes winner for Mayo.

"He is a good trainer and a real class act," said Hamilton. "I was the best man at his wedding and he has always been there for me. Ray is super motivated and I know will have success in his stable."

Jose Carrizales

Jose Carrizales is just 23-years-old and took out his trainer's license last year. He has 30 stalls this season at Louisiana Downs and saddled Fantasicazoom Jr, the winner of the first of the two divisions of the 250-yard Harrah's Dash. Owned by J & J Racing LLC, the 5-year-old son of Fantastic Corona Jr drew off from the far outside post under rider Ricardo Hernandez, Jr.

It was the first stakes win for Carrizales and he was pleased that he could get the job done for owners Juan J. Bazaldua and Jesus E. Del Bosque.

"These owners are good men and have been very supportive," said Carrizales. "They have a farm and breed most of their horses. I get to work with them from the start, which I enjoy."

The young conditioner, who is no relation to the father-son team of Santos and Marcos Carrizales, won 42 races last year. He had two horses compete in stakes: Ss Classyjess, who ran second in the Sam's Town at Evangeline Downs and Perry Mouse Tale, who was seventh in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile (G2) at Fair Grounds.

"I believe in running horses at the right level," he explained. "We like to start at the $5,000 level and move them up when they are ready. There's no need to run them where they don't belong."

Carrizales has a farm in Kaufman, Texas and believes that keeping his horses well-cared for and happy is an important foundation.

"You also need a little racing luck," he added.

It was a great opening day and both conditioners have a full agenda as the meet progresses, managing their established runners and preparing 2-year-olds for schooling races and upcoming trials.

"The work is never done," admitted Carrizales. "Even on Saturday after the races, I was back at the barn cleaning stalls!"

Photos Courtney: Hodges Photography / Ann Switalski

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.