Beach Mercedes cruises in QHRAI SSA Derby trials

Beach Mercedes returned to her ultra-impressive form Saturday, Aug. 11 in the second of two trials for the Quarter Horse Racing Association (QHRAI) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) Derby. The three-year-old daughter of Escondido Beach was the only horse in the trials to dip under the 20 second mark to advance to the $76,312 final set for Saturday, Aug. 25.

Beach Mercedes cruised to victory under jockey Sergio Ramirez in the fastest of two trials for the QHRAI SSA Derby Sat. Aug. 11 during an all-Quarter Horse racing card. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Beach Mercedes was revved up and ready to go from the gate for Sergio Ramirez. She busted out of the gate and was on top in the field of eight in the first few strides. Stablemate Rockys Candy Shop and Jose Beltran had tabs on the top filly and tracked along well from the outside, but they could not make up any ground on Beach Mercedes as she cruised under the wire by one and three-quarter lengths over Rockys Candy Shop. Bono Rhythm and Rodney Prescott maintained ground in the center of the track for third in the 400-yard dash. The time of the sprint was :19.782 seconds.

Beach Mercedes is owned and bred by Sheri Miller, who stands the multi-year Stallion of the Year in Indiana at her Miller Ranch in Shipshewana, Ind. Randy Smith, Indiana Grand’s all-time leading Quarter Horse trainer and current leader once again in 2018 trains Beach Mercedes.

“She’s an easy keeper and is easy going,” said Smith. “She pretty well stays in here (at Indiana Grand) most of the time. She’s exactly the type of filly you want in your barn.”

HQH Fancy Pants and Juan Galvan won the first of two trials for the QHRAI SSA Derby. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Smith, a native of Broughton, Ill., completed a training center three years ago just minutes from Indiana Grand. He rotates horses in and out of his barn at Indiana Grand to his farm, which includes an indoor jog track, a eurocizer and paddocks.

Beach Mercedes was the fastest qualified followed by the winner of the first trial, HQH Fancy Pants. Ridden by Juan Galvan, the three-year-old filly grabbed attention early out of the gate with a great start and never looked back, stopping the timer in :20.025 seconds. Owned and bred by Haynes Quarter Horses’ Jenifer Haynes, who co-owns the filly with Dianna Jaqua, HQH Fancy Pants was a half-length winner over Twisted Lil Secret and Rodney Prescott. Tuff E Nuff and Natasha Fritz finished third.

HQH Fancy Pants earned her first win of 2018 in five starts for trainer Ron Raper, who saddled five in the QHRAI SSA Derby trials. The daughter of Fantastic Corona Jr was the third choice of the field, paying $8.20, $4.00, $3.20 across the board.

“She has always been consistent and been right there with them,” said Raper. “She was right there fourth and fifth last time in the Derby (Blue River Derby) and the distance just got to her. She ran well tonight.”

The entire field for the QHRAI SSA Derby final, in order of times with jockey, includes: Beach Mercedes (Sergio Ramirez, :19.782); HQH Fancy Pants (Juan Galvan, :20.025); Rockys Candy Shop (Jose Beltran, :20.079); Twisted Lil Secret (Rodney Prescott, :20.105); Tuff E Nuff (Natasha Fritz, :20.164); Fish Head (Luis Guerrero, :20.265); Bono Rhythm (Rodney Prescott, :20.265); JJ James (Jose Beltran, :20.273); Air Born Rio (Rogelio Romero Diaz, :20.282); and Chic Down Lo (Luis Guerrero, :20.306). Raper will saddle three in the final (HQH Fancy Pants, Fish Head, Chic Down Lo) as will Smith (Beach Mercedes, Rockys Candy Shop, JJ James) while Trainer Randy Haffner will saddle two in the final (Twisted Lil Secret, Bono Rhythm).

The 35th running of the QHRAI SSA Derby will be joined by the 40th running of the $169,274 QHRAI SSA Futurity on Saturday, Aug. 25. Post time is set for 6:05 p.m. with the two Quarter Horse stakes at the end of the racing program.

The QHRAI SSA Derby and Futurity were part of the third all-Quarter Horse racing programs at Indiana Grand for 2018. The following dates set aside for all-Quarter Horse racing include Saturday, Sept. 15, Saturday, Oct. 6 and Saturday Oct. 27, which features four stakes that evening with purses in excess of $425,000.