LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen April  11, 2021

LOUISIANA DOWNS MEMORIES

The 2021 Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet wraps up on Wednesday, April 7. The great team in Bossier City always has some major issues to deal with and the February winter freeze was at the top of their woes this year. But the management, racing office staff and track superintendent, Billy McKeever, soldiered through in top caliber fashion!

Schooling races and the Mardi Gras and Harrah's Futurity showed the talent of many 2-year-olds that made their mark and will likely continue to be newsmakers throughout 2021.

Here are just a few of the memorable moments of the 2021 Louisiana Downs season!

Mardi Gras Futurity

A very exciting edition of the $349,946 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) took place on March 27 with fillies taking the top two spots in the final. It was a maiden-breaking victory for Ruse Ranch LLC's homebred Kk Sandra Patriot, a daughter of Game Patriot out of the Jess Louisiana Blue mare Sandra Sue Blue. Trainer Adrian Huitron saluted Sandra Sue Blue, who won the 2013 Mardi Gras Futurity

"I think she wanted to do it for her mom (Sandra Sue Blue) who won the race several years ago (also winning from the four hole!)," said Huitron.

Both mom and her daughter were longshots in the final! Sandra Sue Blue, bred by Kathleen and Steve Billings, upset the field and paid $69 to win. Kk Sandra Patriot rewarded her supporters with a win ticket of $30.80.

Huitron said that Kk Sandra Patriot will be pointed to the Lassie Futurity at Delta Downs.

The runner-up, Jess Dash Fast, a filly by Heza Fast Dash, bred by Jumonville Farms/Burnett Ranch, was also a bit of a surprise, outrunning her 27-1 odds. Owned by Juan Montoya and trained by Levi Mays, she briefly had the lead, before Kk Sandra Patriot surged to win by a neck.

"There was plenty of trouble on the outside (involving top qualifier Ultimo Alex)," said Mays. "Our filly almost won before getting nosed out." But he and his wife, Charlotte, were thrilled with the effort of Jess Dash Fast, who bucked in her schooling race, but improved considerably in her trial to qualify for the final.

"It was very exciting for us," stated Charlotte Mays. "We have a passion for horseracing and enjoy the people we have know for years in Louisiana and Texas. The family of racing means a great deal to us!"

Mardi Gras Derby

Family was also a strong theme in the $121,158 Mardi Gras Derby, which also took place on Saturday, March 27 at Louisiana Downs.

The father-son duo of owner Rosendo Valdez and his son Rosendo Valdez, Jr. who trains for the barn, qualified three sophomores in trials contested on March 7. They won with Apollitical High, who broke alertly powered home, prevailing by 1 lengths over Get It Done Babe.

Bred by Leroy Fontenot Jr, the son of Apollitical Blood out of the Toast to Dash mare Toastem Honi was bumped and ran sixth in the LQHBA Louisiana Million Juvenile and is rounding into his best form this year.

Valdez cited issues breaking from the gate as the only reason Apollitical High did not win a futurity last year.

"I guess today he proved me wrong," said Valdez. "Even in his trial, he didn't get away well, but came from behind and still managed to win (in the sixth fastest clocking). "He's a sound horse and we look forward to running at Delta Downs. We will stay in Louisiana!"

Rosendo Valdez won his first leading owner title last December at Evangeline Downs. Rosendo Valdez, Jr. serves as trainer, with the entire family involved in the family racing operation. However, he was maybe a little excited following the Mardi Gras Derby victory and could not remember the exact number of brothers and sisters saying that there were "about nine" when asked in his post-race interview.

"I was a little off," admitted Valdez with a smile. "There are five brothers, five sisters and two cousins who live with us and work in the barn. We basically count them as brothers, so I can clarify that we have 12 family members in our operation!"

Louisiana Downs Meet Leaders

Rosendo Valdez and J & J Stables LLC both were prominent in the owner standings. Trainer Jose Carrizales, who won his first training title last year at Louisiana Downs, looks poised to repeat over Rosendo Valdez, Jr, Lanny Keith and Kenny Roberts. David Alvarez, who wrapped up 2020 with 111 wins to top all North American Quarter Horse jockeys, continues his dominance. He will win the Louisiana Downs title over Arturo Alvarez and Ricardo Hernandez, Jr., in a convincing double-digit showing!

Several horses had multiple wins this season including Preston Jourdan's Tuckers Prize. The son of Fast Prize Dash has won ten career races, including the 2019 Louisiana Champions Day Derby at Fair Grounds. He is undefeated this year, with back-to-back allowance scores at Louisiana Downs.

So despite the weather and lingering concerns due to COVID-19, this year is off to a promising start with plenty to look forward to in the months to come! The Delta Downs Quarter Horse live racing season gets underway on May 1 and we will bring you much more on that meet in the next LQHBA Insider!

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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.