LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen April  25, 2024


When owners and trainers chart a course for their 2-year-olds, they have to grapple with a fundamental question. Should we run in the early futurities or save our horse for the later events in the year?

Well, owner Miguel Aguilar did not have to make that choice with his exceptional juvenile, Rdd Lajollanfastdash! His gelding has qualified for four futurities this year in Louisiana, winning the $273,054 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) as well as the $323,488 LQHBA Sale Futurity (RG1) on September 3 at Fair Grounds. On Friday, October 28, he set the fastest qualifying time to the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity at Evangeline Downs.

To further appreciate this amazing journey, note than the precocious gray almost did not make it to the racetrack due to an illness as a weanling. He was bred by Richard Dale Domingue of Youngsville, Louisiana, who paired his Streakin La Jolla mare La Jollan Queen to Heza Fast Dash. Rdd Lajollanfastdash, foaled on January 21, 2014, fought an uphill battle at a young age.

"He got the strangles, then the mare got it and they both ended up at LSU in isolation for three weeks," said Domingue. "We were very fortunate that they both recovered. He was always a very intelligent and attentive young horse."

Aguilar purchased several yearlings at the 2015 LQHBA Yearling Sale, and signed a $10,000 ticket for Rdd Lajollanfastdash. He liked his pedigree, noting his "long, straight legs", but didn't think at the time that he would be the best of his 2016 racing prospects.

However, that impression changed after his first breeze, and became even more evident following his schooling race on January 29, when he drew off by 3 1/4 lengths.

Raul Ramirez, Jr. dismounted and gave his connections the thumbs up, and has been a believer throughout 2016.

"He does not act like a 2-year-old," explained Ramirez. "His maturity and his professionalism is much more like a 4-year-old racehorse. My only question was whether he could go 400 yards as he is not that big. But, he is a good gate horse, strides well once he gets out and has a big heart. Going into his (LQHBA Breeders Futurity) trial, I knew I was on the best Louisiana-bred."

Ramirez won the 2014 edition of the richest race in Louisiana with Jose Guzman's Jls Dashn and Zoomn and did it again last year aboard Julio Rios' Jess A Saint. He has no qualms in stating that he is hungry for another win in the big dance.

"My dad is no longer with us, but I know he is watching from above," said the 34-year-old rider. "I want to win it, not just for me, but for my mom, dad, daughter and (fiancé') Jessica."

Rdd Lajollanfastdash began his year trained by Willie Simien and is now with Jose Sanchez. Other than his loss in the final of the $690,295 Lee Berwick Futurity at Delta Downs, he has been flawless this year, winning six of seven starts and earning $290,677.

"This horse has given me many firsts," admitted Domingue. "He was my first graded stakes winner as a breeder and the win in the LQHBA Sale Futurity was a first as well. By far, he is my once in a lifetime horse!"

Domingue praises his homebred, but also gives high marks to the Louisiana-bred program, which offers tremendous rewards to breeders.

"Even when he ran last in the Lee Berwick, I got my breeders award check in the mail," added Domingue. "With the great racing dates and incentives, we would be fools to run out of state."

Ten Finalists Return on November 19 for a Big Payday

Nine other qualifiers will challenge Rdd Lajollanfastdash for the chance to win the coveted trophy and the winner's check of $445,000. Trainer Michael Taylor has two finalists: Lassie Futurity winner, Louisiana Jewels, owned by Harlow Stables LLC and Ten for Ten LLC's Tellem Im Pumped. Miguel Rodriguez, who conditioned both 2011 champion Rapid Transit and last year's winner, Jess A Saint, will saddle eighth-fastest qualifier, Oak Almighty. Jumomville Farms, who bred 2015 LQHBA Breeders Futurity victor Jess A Saint, will be represented by Blue Eyed Cartel, who they bred in partnership with Burnett Ranch.

Trainer Bobby Martinez won the 2012 edition of the stakes with Open Me A Corona, the first time it was run as a seven-figure final. He will have another shot this year with Narcisco Flores' homebred, Gone Swingin. The Swingin Jess gelding won the second trial under Damian Martinez in the fourth-fastest time of :19.777.

"Not bad for a $4,400 repurchase at the sale," said Martinez. "I told 'Chicho' we had to geld him and he agreed. Since that, he has been much more focused than he was as a stud colt."

Martinez has a 20-year association with Flores. Both Texans have done well in Louisiana.

"He's a really good guy," Martinez said of Flores. "As an owner, he lets me train the way I see fit and always has the best interest of the horse in mind."

Martinez, always ready with the one-liners, was quick to respond on how he would feel should Gone Swingin win the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity.

"It would mean that I would have a really good Christmas!"

November 19 Will be a Big Night for LQHBA

The big night of racing on November 19 at Evangeline Downs is important on many levels, according to Tony Patterson, LQHBA executive director.

"To run the only RG1 futurity in the country with a true $1,000,000 purse is a tremendous compliment to our breeders, owners and board of directors," stated Patterson. "We take great pride that breeders awards will be paid in all ten places of our breeders futurity and derby!"

There is an important update for the derby as well. For the very first time, purse money will be carried forward to the 2017 LQHBA Breeders Derby. The 2016 LQHBA Breeders Futurity is $1,000,000-guaranteed. The $25,000 which carries over to the 2017 LQHBA Breeders Derby, will elevate that stakes to $300,000 estimated for 2017.

In addition, LQHBA will be rewarding Louisiana students with $11,000 in scholarships on November 19 at Evangeline Downs. Louisiana students must register in person between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. with the drawings to take place after race five.

The LQHBA and its board members are committed to supporting further education for Louisiana youth. Since 2001, the LQHBA scholarship program has provided financial aid for students to attend a higher education institution. Over $430,000, has been earmarked for this program since its inception.

Last November, on LQHBA Breeders Futurity Night at Evangeline Downs, live scholarship drawings took place in between races, and Louisiana students and their families enjoyed the million dollar futurity and four drawings for scholarship awards of $1,500. One very fortunate student, Cassie Babin, was the recipient of a $5,000 drawing.

"The scholarship program is very important to our association," said Patterson. "We look forward to offering valuable financial aid to Louisiana students, and to making our big racing events even more special by including these drawings."

Draw set for Friday, November 11

The draw for the $1,000,000 LQHBA Breeders Futurity, $264,398 LQHBA Breeders Derby and $40,000 LQHBA Breeders Invitational Breeders Stakes will not take place until Friday, November 11, but jockey Raul Ramirez, Jr. places little importance on post position in the futurity.

"If this was the type of draw that allowed you to pick the post position, I would just give everyone else the chance to pick first," he stated. "I'll take whatever gate there is because I am confident in my little gray horse."

The storylines are compelling, and whether it be a repeat win for connections or a first for other finalists, it will be a night to remember! Good luck to all!

For a complete list of LQHBA Breeders' Futurity(RG1) finalists, times, sires, dams, owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys CLICK HERE.

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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.