Month: June 2017

By Nancy Holthus, paddock analyst

For many born outside the red, white and blue, a lifelong dream is to come to America. According to the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security, during the last decade, U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed more than 7.4 million naturalized citizens into the fabric of our nation.

Leandro Goncalves completed the naturalized citizen test June 7 and will be sworn in during an official ceremony in a couple months. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Leandro Goncalves’ upbringing in his native Brazil wasn’t exactly the Portuguese version of Leave It To Beaver. Sadly, he was separated from his parents at a young age and not reunited with his mother until much later in his teens. His youth was spent on farms and without a chance to attend proper schools. His talent on the back of a Quarter Horse made him a very a hot commodity.  The uncle of his childhood sweetheart saw his raw talent and knew that would he would transition easily to Thoroughbreds and helped send him to jockey school.

Goncalves had always dreamed of coming to America as a kid. Fast forward to August 2005, that dream became a reality with the help of California trainer Jose DeLima. With a Jockey Visa and a desire to live his dream, he wasted no time and rode his first American race at Del Mar, albeit to a 10th place finish. After riding a few mounts around the bullring at Fairplex, he traveled to the opposite end of the country to Mountaineer Park in West Virginia. But the “American dream” wasn’t exactly going as planned and went winless in 18 starts in less than two months. Goncalves said that due to lack of opportunities, he was ready to quit the only job he’d ever known. Shortly after in the beginning of 2006, he was prepared to never ride again and that his dream turned into a nightmare. With his jockey visa near its expiration, his bags were packed and he was ready to return to his native Brazil.


Jess Kool Lady and Giovani Vasquez-Gomez turned in the quickest time of two trials on the Saturday, June 24 racing program at Indiana Grand. The duo covered the 400-yard dash in a time of :19.551 seconds, winning by open lengths.


Jess Kool Lady and Giovani Vazquez-Gomez were super impressive in their trial for the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby Saturday, June 24. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post three in the 10-horse field, there was close quarters on the inside, but Jess Kool Lady was so quick out of the gate, she was able to shoot out in front of any bumping and grab an impressive early lead. The three-year-old Apollitical Jess filly was unstoppable, at one point leading the way by nearly five lengths ahead of the pack before coasting under the wire for the victory by three and three-quarter lengths. American Hustler and Jose Ruiz rallied up for second followed by Inundated and Juan Galvan for third.

 The win in the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby trials marked the fifth win in seven career starts for Jess Kool Lady. She is owned by Enrique Ibarra and trained by Victor Olivo, who is in his second year as a trainer after retiring as a jockey after the 2015 season.


Despite a sweep by Team Mexico in the final Quarter Horse race of the night, the team from the United States retained the title in the fourth annual World Jockey Challenge at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Saturday, June 24. The event covered all 10 races with 35 jockeys vying for points for their respective […]

Shes Da One on Fire and Jose Davila got to the lead from the gate and never looked back, taking top honors in the 15th running of the $40,000 Indiana Grand Classic at Indiana Grand Friday, June 23. The duo stopped the timer in :19.981 seconds.

Shes Da One on Fire and Jose Davila earned the win in the $40,000 Indiana Grand Classic Friday, June 23. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Shes Da One on Fire found constant pressure from A Tacky Chick and Alonso Rivera, but did not relinquish her lead, winning the race by one-half length over A Tacky Chick. HR Chatter Wagon and Rolando Pina also stayed close to finish a neck back in third.

Owned by Jesus Daniel Padilla and trained by Sacramento Chavez, Shes Da One on Fire was making her first start of 2017. The five-year-old daughter of Walk Thru Fire now has four career wins and more than $64,000 in career earnings.


My Royal Wagon and Indiana Grand’s all-time winning jockey Harold Collins stopped the timer in record setting time Tuesday, June 20. The duo covered the 400-yard allowance dash in a time of :19.357 seconds, establishing a new track record at Indiana Grand.


My Royal Wagon and Harold Collins edge out TF Jess A Leader and Jesse Levario (inside) for the win and a new track record for 400 yards Tuesday, June 20. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from the center of the nine-horse field, My Royal Wagon broke quickly and was in contention for the lead from the start. The four-year-old PYC Paint Your Wagon horse increased his speed with every stride, fending off TJ Jess A Leader and Jesse Levario at the finish line by the margin of a head to win the race. Jess A Dollar and Jose Davila rallied up for third.

 Owned by Brian Gunder and trained by Jeff Yoder, My Royal Wagon was the second favorite of the field behind TF Jess A Leader, paying $7.60, $3.40, $2.80 across the board to his backers. The Oklahoma bred now has two wins in three starts for 2017 and five wins lifetime with purse earnings in excess of $170,000.


Retrospection and Robby Albarado proved to be the toughest pair in the ninth running of the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes Wednesday, June 21. The duo found room at the top of the stretch and got through en route to their first career stakes win.

Retrospection and Robby Albarado (inside) edge out Mind Reader and DeShawn Parker for the win in the Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post one in the 10 horse field, Albarado had Retrospection in contention early and was covered up by horses for a majority of the race, sitting in mid pack as Evader and Marcelino Pedroza led the way through early fractions of the one and one-sixteenth mile race. As the field approached the final turn, the field became even more bunched up leaving several horses on the inside searching for room, including Retrospection.

 At the top of the stretch, Retrospection found just enough space to get through his opponents and find a clear lane to run. Mind Reader and DeShawn Parker also found a place to accelerate and joined Retrospection for the stretch drive. In the end, Retrospection had the advantage on the inside to defeat Mind Reader by the margin of a head. Dox Folly and Malcolm Franklin rallied from the back of the pack to slide in for third.


It was time for Whistle Stop to step up and blow her own horn and that is just what she did in the ninth running of the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes for fillies Wednesday, June 21 at Indiana Grand. Whistle Stop blew by the competition in the stretch to rally home for her third straight win with Jockey Marcelino Pedroza aboard.


Jockey Marcelino Pedroza has a smile on his face as the pint-sized Whistle Stop rallied to her first stakes win in the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes Wednesday, June 21. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Pedroza had Whistle Stop alert at the start, gunning out of the gate in search of one of the top spots in the eight horse field. Bar Rag and Tommy Pompell maintained their positioning inside as the race leaders while Whistle Stop tracked their progress along the outside with Midnight Blvd and Leandro Goncalves sitting closely in third along the rail.

 Bar Rag continued to lead the way down the backstretch as heavily favored Defining Hope, ridden by Malcolm Franklin, waited patiently in mid pack to make their customary move around the turn. Defining Hope moved in a flash around horses and by the time the field had landed at the top of the stretch, she was challenging Bar Rag and Whistle Stop for the lead while Midnight Blvd was also close behind on the inside.


The Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) held their annual Youth Racing Experience event Saturday, June 17 at Indiana Grand. The program designed to teach 16-18 year olds about Quarter Horse racing drew a total of 13 students from both Indiana and Illinois for the day-long event.


A total of 13 students attended the 2017 Youth Racing Experience hosted by QHRAI Saturday, June 17. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Students arrived at 8 a.m. and were informed of different aspects of racing, including guest speakers that talked about veterinary work, race marketing, security, track maintenance, and other facets of the racetrack. After lunch, the group took a tour of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission offices and received honorary licenses for their time at the track. They also got an in depth look inside the Quarter Horse barn and talked to several trainers about conditioning the sprinters for racing.

 The afternoon session was followed by a test on what they learned throughout the day. The top two scores from the tests will advance to the national Youth Racing League hosted by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) during the Bank of America Challenge Championships set for mid October at Prairie Meadows near Des Moines, Ia. In addition to the trip, the students advancing to the final will also receive a $1,000 scholarship from QHRAI.


Everything asked of Stone Cold Leader to this point in his career has been accomplished and the two-year-old son of Brookstone Bay didn’t disappoint in his latest task. Ridden by Rolando Pina, Stone Cold Leader was a comfortable winner in the eighth running of the $184,000 Gordon Mobley Futurity Final at Indiana Grand Saturday, June 17.

Stone Cold Leader was under wraps under the wire in the $184,000 Gordon Mobley Futurity Final Saturday, June 17. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from a prime post three in the field of 10, Pina only had to worry about possible bumping at the start as the freshman rocked out of the gate with authority. Once the coast was clear, he was on cruise control, running to the wire under wraps for Pina in a time of :15.469 seconds in the 300-yard dash, a new stakes record. Stone Cold Leader was two and one-quarter lengths ahead of The Ebony Hare and Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, who won the tight photo over Sixes Loaded to Fly and Rodney Prescott for second.

 “Before the gate opened, I was just hoping for no interference,” said Pina. “What I was thinking is what came out perfect in the race. This horse (Stone Cold Leader) did it all on his own. He has always done everything on his own to this point.”


It took the whole race to get the job done but Apollitical Regard and Juan Galvan timed the finish just right, winning the 15th running of the $123,900 Jaguar Rocket Futurity Final Saturday, June 17 at Indiana Grand. The duo covered the 300 yard dash in a time of :15.655 seconds by the margin of a neck.


Apollitical Regard and Juan Galvan rally home with a last minute nip of Be Afraid to win the Jaguar Rocket Futurity Final. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from the outside post 10, Apollitical Regard was not the first horse to get noticed out of the starting gate. The two-year-old daughter of Apollitical Jess had to get her feet underneath her in the first few strides before finding her groove. Galvan kept the sorrel filly at task and encouraged her for speed and she delivered. Apollitical Regard came flying on the end of the race, just in time to nab Be Afraid and Cesar Gomez, the race favorites, right at the wire. Jetta Rising and Cesar Esqueda finished third.

 “I was so lucky to have such a good handler (in the gate) tonight,” said Galvan, who has been riding for 18 years. “She can get tough in the gate but she broke perfect tonight.”