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$310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity Highlights Saturday's Card at Harrah's Louisiana Downs

Fastest qualifier Quick To Flirt will face a full-field in Saturday's restricted Grade 2 $310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity at Louisiana Downs.

Hodges Photography

BOSSIER CITY, LA--MARCH 12, 2018--An exceptional afternoon of racing is on tap Saturday at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

The card gets underway at 1:00 p.m. (Central) with the $15,000 Streakin La Jolla, the $87,506 Mardi Gras Derby and a record purse of $310,466 set for this year's Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2).

Quick To Flirt Installed as the Favorite in the $310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2)

Fourteen trials for the $310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2), each at a distance of 300 yards, were run on Saturday, February 24. Triple C Racing Stables LLC's Quick To Flirt won the third trial in a time of :15.587 under jockey Randy Edison. That clocking held for the remainder of the heats.

Ricardo Castillo, owner of Triple C Racing Stables, was pleased with the effort of the gelding by Quick To Flare Up out of the First Down Jewel mare Fasttown Baby. Bred by Belinda Disotell, Quick To Flirt was a January 10 foal and showed his running prowess at a very early age.

Castillo and trainer Jesus Garrido, saw his potential last year when they made a visit to Herbert Quarter Horses in Welsh, Louisiana. "Jesus and I saw a yearling on the ranch running to catch other horses," said Castillo. "It was Quick to Flirt, and we bought him that day. Since coming to our farm in Vinton, it was the same; he runs fast out there in the pasture. He wants to be on the lead and lives up to that on the racetrack!"

Quick To Flirt won a schooling race on February 2, prior to his very professional Mardi Gras Futurity trial win. He broke from post position four, and the 5-2 morning line choice drew the same slot for Saturday's final.

"I was hoping for that post," said Castillo, who will be joined a large group of family and friends. "Yellow is my favorite color and our horse ran so well from there in his trial."

Castillo and Garrido combined forces last year to qualify Jrs Natural Runaway to last year's Mardi Gras Futurity. He was denied by Blue Eyed Fance, and Castillo hopes for a better outcome this year with Quick to Flirt.

"Maybe this year will be our time," he said. "We have a great horse, and Jesus said he is doing well. All we can hope for is a clean break; the horse will do the rest."

Five fillies will run in the Mardi Gras Futurity with Tf Lil Black Runaway clocking the second fastest trial time of :15.662 under current Louisiana Downs leading rider Everardo Rodriguez.

Bred by Tate Farms, the daughter of Sir Runaway Dash out of the Oak Tree Special mare Tf Lil Black Oak, is trained by Lanny Keith.

"We always thought she was a pretty nice filly," commented Keith. "She progressed nicely in her training; left the gates well so we skipped the schooling races with her. It was a good debut in her trial win; she did her job and came out of the race really well."

As the first official futurity of the year, the winner will earn $139,709 and join a list of distinguished Louisiana-breds, including Vals Fortune and Jet Black Patriot.

Vals Fortune won the 2003 edition of the Mardi Gras Futurity and the Heath Taylor trainee went on to win 20 of his 23 starts, becoming the first Louisiana-bred millionaire. Five years later, Jet Black Patriot, bred and owned by Richard and Janelle Simon, stamped his name in the record books, winning the Mardi Gras, Lee Berwick and LQHBA Breeders Futurity, with a runner-up finish in the All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs as well.

Another noted past champion is 2015 Mardi Gras Futurity winner Magic Black Jack. While he did not win another futurity, he set a new world record in the 2017 Flying Breed Stakes at Delta Downs and became the first Louisiana-bred in AQHA history to accomplish that feat.

The $310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2), in post-position order, including jockey assignments:

  1. Igottarampage (Guadalupe Lucio, Jr.)
  2. Flamin Hot Fortune (Damian Martinez)
  3. Guidry Pride II (Juan Garcia, Jr.)
  4. Quick to Flirt (Randy Edison)
  5. Tf Lil Black Runaway (Everardo Rodriguez)
  6. Wild Card Patriot (Gaspar Garcia)
  7. Ms Pilot Tee (Rolando Cabrera)
  8. The Mighty Moose (Noe Castaneda)
  9. Hott Chocolate (Noe Villatoro)
  10. Tdz Louisiana Toast (Luis Vivanco)

The Cazador Leads the Field in the $87,506 Mardi Gras Derby

The $87,506 Mardi Gras Derby will also be contested on March 17. Four 400-yard trials were run on February 25 with The Cazador clocked in :19.922 seconds for owner Rayne Knight.

The top four finishers in The Cazador's trial qualified for the Mardi Gras Derby(RG3). Hodges Photography
The son of Sir Runaway Dash was bred by Curtis Crenweldge and Michael Zingelmann, who bred 2017 Mardi Gras Derby winner, Zooboo. He lit up the toteboard at odds of 18-1, but there is very little chance of The Cazador delivering a return of that magnitude this year.

"He ran a great trial and am hoping that the win built his confidence," stated Zingelmann, who trains the sorrel colt, named after his son Hunter. "There were three horses within a neck of each other, so whoever gets away the best can win the final."

The Cazador will be ridden by jockey John Hamilton. The 53-year-old rider was injured in an accident last November at Evangeline Downs and underwent surgery on November 18 to repair his broken leg. It involved the insertion of a titanium rod from the top of his hip to his knee and over 30 staples to close the incision.

Fueled by an outpouring of support from family, friends, his fellow jockeys and Louisiana racing fans, Hamilton made an amazing recovery and was thrilled to win his trial aboard The Cazador.

"I was overwhelmed," said Hamilton of the win on February 25. "My family, the Taylor family, grooms, pony people, the jockeys who call me "the old rooster" and so many other people called and visited me. Their loyalty was so flattering and meant so much."

Sir Runaway Dash produced two additional finalists to the Mardi Gras Derby: second-fastest qualifier Jrs Taylors Runnaway and Tf El Whiskey. Jrs Taylors Runnaway, owned by Rosalio Espinosa, finished a neck behind The Cazador in trials, but brings an impressive record into Saturday's final.

The sorrel gelding won the $297,220 LQHBA Sale Futurity (G1) at Fair Grounds and ran third in the LQHBA Louisiana Million on December 16 for trainer Martin Trejo. He was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite with The Cazador as the 4-1 second choice.

Tf El Whiskey is trained by Carlos Saldivar and owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr., who will receive two honors at the March 24th LQHBA Awards Banquet. His filly, Dashnunder Afullmoon is the champion 2-year-old filly and Marquez will receive the trophy as 2017 champion owner. The resident of Rosenberg, Texas, hopes that Tf El Whiskey, with Juan Marquez in the irons, will become a stakes winner as a 3-year-old.

"He was solid throughout his 2-year-old season, qualifying for three futurities," said Marquez. "In the Lee Berwick, he ran third behind Dashnunder Afullmoon and (LQHBA Louisiana Million champion) You Drive I Fly. We gave him some time off after Evangeline and he looks great. Obviously, we hope he gets a good break, but he always gives his heart and finishes strong."

The Mardi Gras Derby will run as the seventh race. The field, in post-position order, follows:

  1. Heza Jess Cuervo (Damian Martinez)
  2. Tf El Whiskey (Juan Marquez)
  3. Gunna Be Alright (David Alvarez)
  4. Storm Patriot (Luciano Duenez)
  5. Featuring Fast Jess (Noe Castaneda)
  6. A Canadian Chill (Everardo Rodriguez)
  7. Jet Black Secret (Donald Watson)
  8. The Cazador (John Hamilton)
  9. Jrs Taylors Runnaway (Jorge Linares)
  10. Cos I Get It (Luis Vivanco)

Tf Racee Runaway Returns in the $15,000 Streakin La Jolla Stakes

Stakes action gets underway in race six with the running of the 15,000 Streakin La Jolla Stakes. A competitive field of ten is entered in the 400-yard feature.

Tate Farms' TF Racee Runaway is the high earner in the nine-horse field with his victory in the seven-figure 2016 LQHBA Breeders Futurity boosting his career bankroll to $532,896.

Tf Racee Runaway will face a full field in Saturday's 15,000 Streakin La Jolla Stakes. Coady Photography
This will be his second start this meet at Louisiana Downs for the 4-year-old gelding by Sir Runaway Dash. He ran a solid third in the $25,000 Mr Jess Perry on February 20 under jockey Everardo Rodriguez, earning a speed index of 101.

"We knew that 350 yards was a little short for him," said trainer Lanny Keith. "It was a good effort and nice finish from Everardo."

Another top contender is Rancho Herradura, LLC's Sixes Flash, winner of the $274,325 Firecracker Futurity (G2) at last July at Delta Downs. The son of Streakin Sixes, trained by Barbara Alcantara, will make his three-year-old debut under jockey Rolando Cabrera.

Two entrants will try to keep their win streaks alive into the Streakin La Jolla. Beyondthecos, owned by Kris Locklear and trainer by Vann Haywood, has won his has four races, including three in the current meet.

Damian Martinez has the return call on the Tee Cos gelding. The 5-year-old Pop Rocket Jess is undefeated in three starts for owner M&M Stables Inc. and reunites with rider Ricardo Hernandez, Jr.

The field for the Streakin La Jolla Stakes, in post-position order

  1. Sixes Flash (Rolando Cabrera)
  2. Beyondthecos (Damian Martinez)
  3. Zenergetic (Juan Garcia, Jr.)
  4. Heza Beach Bum (Luciano Duenez)
  5. Jes A Spitfire (Rolando Pina)
  6. Pop Rocket Jess (Ricardo Hernandez, Jr.)
  7. Sizzlin Stewart (Antonio Alberto)
  8. Mps Jewels Fantasy (Jorge Linares)
  9. Tf Racee Runaway (Everardo Rodriguez)
  10. Sunset Run (Luis Vivanco)

Heza Beach Bum and Jess a Spitfire to run as a coupled entry.

Handicapping Preview Show Gets Underway at Noon

Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at noon in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer their selections for each of the races on the Saturday card and in-depth analysis of the finalists in the Mardi Gras Derby and Futurity.

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About Harrah's Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000-square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

Courtesy Ses