LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen July  21, 2024


Many people in the Quarter Horse racing world dream of owning one remarkable champion, but some owners have even greater fortune. Jason Richards and Michael LeBlanc have forged a successful partnership and shared joyous celebrations with two amazing fillies: Jessa Louisiana Zoom and Lifeinthefastlanes. Richards took time from his busy schedule to talk about their association and their stable stars.

Friendship Serves as the Foundation for the Solid Partnership

Richards was born in Port Arthur Texas and raised in Bridge City Texas, roughly 20 miles from Delta Downs.

"I’ve known Mike as long as I can remember," explained Richards. "Most of us have other people outside of our parents that stamp our lives and Mike is one of those people to me. My father and Mike worked together for forty years and they actually partnered up on a few racehorses when I was in my early teens. In 2004 I started my first horse and went on to run several horses before Mike and I partnered up in 2012 with our first horse Louisiana Corona who went on to win multiple stakes races and qualified for the All American Derby."

Jessa Louisiana Zoom won both the Lassie and Lee Berwick Futurities in 2015 and was honored as LQHBA Champion 2-year-old Filly. Last year, Lifeinthefastlanes remained undefeated in her 3-year-old campaign, culminating with a resounding score in the $273,763 LQHBA Breeders Derby in December. She was named LQHBA 3-year-old Filly.

"Both of these fillies were sired by the great Jess Louisiana Blue and both showed very early on that they had talent," said Richards. "I remember the first time we breezed Lifeinthefastlanes I got a text from David Alvarez that said "My friend I came to Louisiana Downs with the hope that your mare was going to be good and today I thank God that you didn't pick wrong."

LQHBA and AQHA Champion conditioner Kenny Roberts trains for Richards and LeBlanc.

"We have a good relationship," said Roberts. "Jason is young and has high expectations; Mike is a little more ‘old school’ so they balance each other out. Both are great guys and know that the most important thing is to do right for the horse."

Richards was asked if any colts or geldings have soared to the same heights as their fillies

"Out of our 53 lifetime starts, 51 of them have been with a filly," he replied. "The lone colt we started was a homebred that broke his maiden in his second start and got claimed. That colt helped reinforce the idea that fillies raised by successful breeders was our niche' and we haven't deviated from this path since."

Two More Promising Fillies

With the Delta Downs meet kicking off on May 10, both men are looking forward to seeing their established horses run as well as two fillies, Shesabadmoonrising and Apolliticalfastlane, who showed promise in their schooling races and will be pointed to the Lassie Futurity.

"Mike and I are very happy to have both of these fillies in our stable," said Richards. "Both trained very well leading up to the schooling races and showed us what we wanted to see when asked for some run. We bought Apolliticalfastlane privately from Wade Loup as she is a half sister to Lifeinthefastlanes. Her sire, Apollitical Blood is really producing some nice runners, so this combined with our love for the bottom side of the pedigree made this one our top choices."

Yearling Sale Stories

Jessa Louisiana Zoom was a $22,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale purchase. She retired with a record of six wins from 16 starts and earnings of $637,591.

Richards shares the story behind the purchase of Shesabadmoonrising from last year’s sale.

"Shesabadmoonrising was a horse that immediately caught my eye when I saw the pedigree in the LQHBA catalog," he said. "She sold under the name A Dash of Vodka and her dam was a futurity finalist and 1/2 sister to Dashnunder Afullmoon. I was unable to attend the sale, so I gave Kenny Roberts permission to ‘not let her go cheap’ and he signed the ticket on our behalf. Mike found out he had purchased the horse by reading the sales results later in the day. This is not the first time I have done this to him, and it usually results in a phone call that starts with ‘is there something you want to tell me’?"

Loving Louisiana Racing

Being a racehorse owner has its challenges, but for Richards, the rewards far outweigh the lows.

"I think first and foremost it’s the camaraderie with family and friends centered around the pursuit and enjoyment of a nice horse," Richards explained. "Mike and I both really enjoy the times we spend with our inner circle of supporters on race nights and at the yearling sales and the memories that come as a result. Second, I was a fan of the sport before I ever became a participant and I still love to watch fast horses run. If I ever decide to walk away from ownership my interest in Louisiana racing will never fade. There's something about a Louisiana Friday night, 15 Lassie trials, Sabine River sand, and the voice of Don Stevens that makes everything right."

Lifeinthefastlanes Back in Action

Richards and LeBlanc’s brilliant mare will make her first start on Tuesday, May 11 in the $50,000 Open Me a Corona Stakes (RG2).

"We ultimately brought her back as a 4 year old because she loves what she does, and we love to watch her do it, acknowledged Richards. "It’s going to be a bittersweet day as we will be without our regular rider David Alvarez who is recovering from an ankle injury, but we are very fortunate that Antonio Alberto was available to take the ride. All of the races from this point on are really tough to win but I feel good about where she is in her training and I expect her to give her usual effort, which is everything she’s got."

We wish David Alvarez a speedy recovery and congratulate Richards and LeBlanc on their success and continued support of Louisiana Quarter Horse racing!

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

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.