LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen July  21, 2024


Weather forecasters often refer to the adage "March roars in like a lion and out like a lamb" when referring to the third month of the calendar year. In our region, and for obvious reasons, we prefer not to dwell on weather. Instead, March is the very exciting month on our racing calendar with trials for the Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) on Saturday, March 6 and the final for the first "official futurity" of the year set for Saturday, March 27.

Trainer Luis Martinez will saddle nine 2-year-olds in Mardi Gras trials and looks forward to the busy day in which 17 trials will be contested. On February 12, Martinez was very active in the schooling races for 2-year-olds paid into the Mardi Gras and won six of the races that day. Soft On The Freight, a filly by LQHBA 2020 Champion Stallion, set the fastest time of the day, winning her 250-yard heat in :12.126 seconds. The $6,500 LQHBA Yearling Sale graduate is owned by Jesus Villarreal. She was ridden by LQHBA Champion Jockey David Alvarez, who stays on board for her trial.

"We were very surprised," admitted Martinez. "She’s a small filly and when we worked her two weeks before the schooling races, she was very green. David said she liked her outside post that day, so I was pleased that she drew post eight for her Mardi Gras trial."

Freighttrain B stands at Cox Stallion Station in Kaplan, Louisiana, which is now solely owned by Bobby D. Cox. With his seventh crop to race in 2021, Freighttrain B has sired 40 stakes horses (11%), earners in excess of $11.3 million with average earnings per starter of $30,225.

He sired the 2020 AQHA Racing World Champion, Champion 2-Year-Old and Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Whistle Stop Cafe ($1,974,900) who was a perfect 6-for-6 while winning the All American Futurity(G1), Rainbow Futurity(G1) and Heritage Place Juvenile. Freighttrain B's Louisiana top performers include Sheza Freighttrain T; No Freight and HH Gailforce.

Jerome Bellard, farm manager for Cox Stallion Station added that Don Aymond of Alexandria, who raised Soft On The Freight, also feels that the filly has solid potential.

"Don liked this filly from the beginning," said Bellard.

Martinez reported that his other schooling race winners will run back in trials, including the third-fastest schooling race winner Goat. The son of Open Me A Corona is owned by Ofelia Rodriguez and was a $5,500 LQHBA Yearling Sale purchase. He crossed the wire of his schooling race in :12.210 seconds under jockey Jose Rodriguez.

"He’s a smart little colt," said Martinez.

The 24-year-old horseman worked for his father, Luis Martinez and trainer Guadalupe Tristan before going out on his own.

"Last year I only had five horses, so to have so many new owners this year means a great deal," said Martinez. "It is a lot of work to prepare these young horses for the trials, but I grew up around horses and love the sport."

Other trainers with multiple entrants in the trials include top Louisiana horseman Kenneth Roberts, Sr.; who has won every major futurity in Louisiana, but never the Mardi Gras Futurity; Ned Goutierrez, Jr., who won the 2006 Mardi Gras Futurity with This Gals Toasted and Jose Sanchez, III, who saddled last year’s champion, El Camino Cl.

The 2021 Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet, which got underway on January 23, has endured its share of challenges with freezing temperatures that forced cancelation of two weeks of racing. Kudos to each of the horsemen as they weathered the storm and kept their horses on track for the return of live racing, and of course, the Mardi Gras trials.

Looking forward to a great month of racing and to crowning the first futurity winner of 2021!

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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.