LOS ALAMITOS : Sir Austin Duncan May Upgrade to the King of This 2-Year-Old Field
Sir Austin Duncan, the top quarter horse in trainer Tom Bazley’s 10-horse stable, is the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s $125,000 California Sires Cup Futurity and could give the 35-year-old trainer his second victory in a major Los Alamitos stake.
“He’s the best horse I’ve ever had at this stage (of a 2-year-old’s development),” Bazley said.
“You’ve got to be high on First Down Dash’s (progeny), the way they’ve been running,” he said of Sir Austin Duncan’s sire. (Sir Austin Duncan) looks a lot like him.”
Five of the 10 horses in the California Sires Cup Futurity were sired by First Down Dash, the 1987 World Champion who won 13 of 15 races, among them the 1987 Champion of Champions. He also sired Royal Quick Dash, who on Monday won the 33rd running of the All-American Futurity.
James Lackey, who will ride Sir Austin Duncan Saturday, was First Down Dash’s jockey in that horse’s 3-year-old year and notices similarities.
“Sir Austin Duncan has a good mind, but he’s a little hot,” Lackey said. “That’s the way (First Down Dash) was. He consistently had racing on his mind. That’s all he wanted to do, was run. First Down Dash had too much fire in his blood, he had to pass it on.”
Sir Austin Duncan, who ran 350 yards in 17.71 seconds in qualifying, is the only horse in the field with stakes success. He was third in the Governor’s Cup Futurity at Los Alamitos on Aug. 17 but Bazley says that race was not a true form indicator.
“He ran good in the finals last time. He just got outrun,” Bazley said. “I thought he ran an excellent race, and I think he was a little intimidated when Corona Chick got out in front of him.”
Sir Austin Duncan is owned by his breeder, Ron Schwab, who has Sunny Creek Farms, a five-acre facility in Carlsbad.
Most of Bazley’s clients are breeders, and many have bred fewer horses in the last few years, which has reduced Bazley’s stable to five quarter horses and five Arabians.
“We’ve been really light on stock,” he said. “Usually we have more quarter horses right now, but business is light. Most of my clients have cut back to one or two (horses) a year.”
Hence, the interest in Arabians. In his stable are Orlik, who races this weekend in the California Derby for 4-year-olds; Biphar, who is being pointed to the Korona Arabian Cup Open on Sept. 28, and Tahoe Knights, who is heading to the Korona Arabian Cup Finals on Sept. 27.
“When they started talking $30,000 to $40,000 in purses, I said, ‘We’ll try some Arabians.’ ” Bazley said. “I train them just like thoroughbreds, except they’re slower.”
Several of the jockeys that campaigned this summer at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico are heading to Los Alamitos, now that the Ruidoso season has ended.
Alex Baldillez Jr., 31, and Bruce Pilkenton, 32, have been named to ride today and Thursday. Jerry Yoakum and Jerry Nicodemus also are heading West. Pilkenton was the fifth-leading rider at last winter’s meeting. Instead of going to Bay Meadows this summer, he went to Ruidoso and rode for Joe Kirk Fulton’s stable. Pilkenton will continue with Fulton’s horses at Los Alamitos, including Special Leader, who won the All-American Gold Cup at Ruidoso last Saturday, as well as riding for other trainers. He has ridden at Los Alamitos for 11 years.
“If you’re going to ride in the winter time, you have to go to (Los Alamitos),” he said. “Because there’s just so much racing.”
Baldillez, who will ride predominantly for trainer Caesar Dominguez, has been one of the leading riders at Ruidoso Downs for the last several years.
He had planned to move to Trinity Meadows near Ft. Worth but changed his mind early last week when approached by Dominguez.
“I wasn’t planning on going to California,” Baldillez said. “But I was at the barn and Caesar said he needed a first-call rider. It kind of threw a loop in my schedule.”
Baldillez, whose brothers Roy and Orlando, are Texas-based quarter horse jockeys, rode at Los Alamitos in 1986 for two months. He won 14 races, including the Las Damas Handicap with Flow Of Cash.
Nicodemus has won the Champion of Champions on four occasions, more than any other rider. He won the 1976 and ’77 runnings with Dash For Cash, the ’80 running with Lady Juno and the ’81 races with Denim N Diamonds. At 45, he’s riding as strong as ever this year, having won the Rainbow Futurity with Steppin For The Moon and the Rainbow Silver Cup with Star of Sierra Leone.
Star Of Sierra Leone, owned by Joan Dale Hubbard, the wife of R. D. Hubbard, is by The Signature out of Denim N Diamonds. She will be pointed to the Vessels Maturity trials on Sept. 20 and will be trained by Mike Robbins and ridden by Nicodemus.
“I’ll just be riding that one mare of Mike’s and just be free-lancing,” said Nicodemus, who last rode in California in a few stakes races in the summer of 1989.
At 19, Yoakum is one of the youngest successful quarter horse jockeys in the nation. He rode Femmes Frolic to fifth place in Monday’s All-American Futurity and has ridden both quarter horses and thoroughbreds in the Southwest in the last few years. He also rode at Los Alamitos last winter and won 16 races. He is looking forward to a big season, which will include riding Femmes Frolic.
“This colt will hopefully make us a lot of money,” said Yoakum, who is from Bandera, Tex. “I’ve done well (at Los Alamitos), but it all depends on your luck and your state of mind.”
A brother and sister won races on last Friday’s program. High Cotton Doll, a 2-year-old filly by On A High out of Caralot, paid $47 after winning the fourth race. Her brother, Really High, a 4-year-old gelding, won the 10th race.
Both are related to Streakin Cara, the second-place finisher in the 1989 Champion of Champions. They also have a yearling half-brother, by Ronas Ryon, named Nolan Ryon.
Beyond Bedunio, ninth in the Governor’s Cup Futurity on Aug. 17, won the $11,225 Leo Handicap for 2-year-olds last Saturday night. The filly, by Bedunio, won by a nose over IB Quick and ran the 350 yards in 17.86 seconds.
Beyond Bedunio, who has won three of six starts, was ridden by Henry Garcia for owner Angel Tiscareno and trainer Caesar Dominguez. IB Quick, who was prominent throughout, won his first two races at Bay Meadows--one over All-American Futurity sixth-place finisher Holland Ease--and was making his first Los Alamitos start.
See Me Gone’s victory in the All-American Derby earned the 3-year-old filly an automatic berth in the Dec. 21 Champions.
Other automatic bids have been awarded to Wicked Willa, the World’s Championship Quarter Horse Classic winner; Takin On The Cash, the Golden State Derby winner, and Apprehend, the Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Assn. champion. Dash For Speed, the 1990 Champion of Champions winner, is also eligible but is currently in foal to the thoroughbred Exclusive Enough and will not race again.
Eight horses get automatic bids and two more get at-large berths after trial races. If an invitation is declined, other horses are chosen after the trials, scheduled for Dec. 7.