LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen July  4, 2022

HOPES AND DREAMS FOR THE MILLION

The field is set for the 2021 LQHBA Louisiana Million (RG1) with two standouts facing eight late developing juveniles. The anticipation is building to see whether the new champion will be one of the proven futurity winners or a new runner that might be peaking at just the right time!

Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) winner Blood Money and LQHBA Sale Futurity champion San Lorenzeaux lead the field into the Saturday, December 18 final. Blood Money, a son of Apollitical Blood bred by Spring Hill Farms, was a $17,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale purchase by Rojas Racing Stables, LLC. He’s won six of his seven starts with earnings of $678,142 and was the fastest qualifier in trials, covering 400 yards in :19.634 seconds. Rosendo Valdez, Jr. trains the accomplished colt.

Rogelio Marquez, Jr.’s San Lorenzeaux, won the LQHBA Sale Futurity in record-setting time and brings a record of four wins from six starts. Hector Alcala trains the son of Carters Cartel, a $29,0000 LQHBA Yearling Sale graduate, bred by Kenneth Garcia. Marquez and Alcala won the 2020 LQHBA Louisiana Million with San Lorenzo.

The top two qualifiers bring solid credentials to this year’s prestigious championship, but the connections of the remaining finalists have faith in their juveniles as well!

Breeder and owner Jorge Haddad is beaming with pride as his stallions are represented by four finalists.

He bred and kept Ultimo Alex, a son of Inseparable, who set the fifth-fastest qualifying time. The colt was the fastest qualifier to the $349,946 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) on March 27 at Louisiana Downs. He was disqualified to tenth in a very troubled trip in that final, but rebounded to earn berths into both the Laddie and Lee Berwick Futurities at Delta Downs.

“He has a really good mindset,” said Haddad, who named the colt after his son, Alex.

Inseparable will also be represented by Dianetoseparatefromu, owned by Denis and Julie Shoenhofer. Leonel Hernandez trains the gelding, who set the sixth-fastest clocking.

Haddad is the breeder of Mr Perfect TLC, a gelding by The Louisiana Cartel, who was the leading second-crop sire in 2016. Owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr., Mr Perfect TLC competed in trials for the Laddie, Lee Berwick and LQHBA Sale Futurities and won his trial for the LQHBA Louisiana Million at odds of 21-1.

“He was really focused,” stated Haddad. “We were very impressed.”

Louisiana Tequila, a filly by The Louisiana Cartel, secured the final qualifying spot for owner Gene Cox and trainer Trey Ellis.

“This is my first crop of Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds,” explained Haddad. “I would be thrilled to win this final!”

Kenneth Roberts, Sr. has won six editions of this championship and was the trainer of Ol Time Preacher Man (2013) and You Drive I Fly (2017) when the race became a seven-figure event and was renamed the LQHBA Louisiana Million. He qualified two finalists this year: Mr Fast Mallard and Ur Louisiana.

Mr Fast Mallard, a son of Heza Fast Dash, bred and owned by Jose Luis Perez Aguirre, broke his maiden in the trial for the LQHBA Louisiana Million.

“I just got him at the beginning of the Evangeline meet,” said Roberts. “He was fast out the gates, but then stopped, so we had to figure that out. He responded well to the equipment changes we made.”

His other entrant is Ur Louisiana, a filly by Jess Louisiana Blue, owned by Rogillio Farms LLC.

“Me and my assistant, Mike, both have been impressed by how well she is training,” commented Roberts of the filly bred by Jumonville Farms. “She’s a real aggressive filly, but coming on well. I’ve always felt that ‘Blues’ are late developers.”

Put Me N Coach is the first LQHBA Louisiana Million starter for trainer Juan Carillo, Jr. and he is thrilled to have the third-fastest qualifier. The son of Carters Cartel, bred by Shortstop Racing was a $20,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale purchase by owner Lorena Morales.

“My cousin and I went to the sale and were first looking at a full brother to Heza Black Magic,” explained Carillo. “That did not pan out, but we also liked Allizoom, the dam of Put Me N Coach. We liked the way he looked in the sale ring; he was a big baby.”

The bay gelding won at first asking, winning his trial for the Mardi Gras Futurity and running third in the final.

“He has a nice long stride,” added Carillo. “We saw his potential to go 400 yards and with seven races under his belt, knows what he’s doing now.”

Trainer Trey Ellis will not be “doubling up” like a few of the aforementioned horsemen, but looks forward to saddling Louisiana Tequila for owner Gene Cox. The filly by The Louisiana Cartel, sold for $21,000 at the LQHBA Yearling Sale and is the tenth-fastest qualifier.

“She’s always had talent,” said Ellis, who has qualified juveniles in many previous editions of the LQHBA Louisiana Million. “Her biggest problem is that she can be goofy in the gates and caused some of her own problems!”

A victory in the final would be icing on the cake for Ellis, who has enjoyed a very successful 2021 on and off the racetrack. He and his wife, Courtney celebrated the birth of the very handsome Tate James Ellis on November 23!

The pride and joy of Louisiana breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys will be on display Saturday, December 18 at Evangeline Downs! Don’t miss a minute of LQHBA Louisiana Million Night and let’s all cross our fingers for a cool, clear and rain-free evening!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen, who 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 Louisiana, Texas, Indiana and other regions in North America.