Stone Cold Leader wins QHRAI SSA Futurity
Stone Cold Leader has been tough all year, and he showed just how tough he can be when put to the test. After a less than desirable start, the two-year-old son of Brookstone Bay rallied late in the 350-yard dash to overtake Be Afraid for the win in the $176,578 Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) Stallion Service Auction (SSA) Futurity Saturday, Aug. 26 at Indiana Grand.
Starting from post three in the 10-horse lineup, Stone Cold Leader was in tight quarters coming out of the gate and did everything he could to keep himself planted between horses. As the field moved on down the track, space began to open up and Jockey Rolando Pina had a tough assignment. Pina had to get Stone Cold Leader back on his game and get his momentum back.
Be Afraid and Alonso Rivera had moved into a short lead on the outside and with just steps left to the finish line, victory looked like it would be all his. However, Stone Cold Leader dug in gamely and rallied back quickly, overtaking Be Afraid in the very last stride to win by a head in a time of :17.951. Rockys Candy Shop and Cody Smith finished another nose back in third.
Selected as the heavy favorite due to his four-race win streak coming into the QHRAI SSA Futurity, Stone Cold Leader paid $3.40, $2.80, $2.20 across the board. He is now five for six lifetime with purse earnings in excess of $223,000 for owner Patrick Richardson of South Carolina.
Richardson, who is a forklift driver for NuCor Steel Berkley, is fairly new to the racing game. He had one horse prior to Stone Cold Leader and went to the QHRAI Speed Sale last fall in Indiana, hoping to snag another yearling. When his plans didn’t work out, he purchased Stone Cold Leader, Hip No. 37, for $10,500. His purchase has paid ten times the dividends and he is now the owner of arguably the best Indiana bred two-year-old in the state. Richardson is always accompanied by many family and friends, who make the 11-hour drive up from South Carolina to watch Stone Cold Leader run.
Stone Cold Leader is trained by Erin Thompson, who has conditioned the gelding’s schedule very well heading into the Futurity Final.
“He (Stone Cold Leader) is a pretty cool cucumber behind the gate,” said Thompson. “Rolando (Pina) always handles him so well. But he (Stone Cold Leader) about gave us a heart attack tonight. He got pushed around a lot and still fought back. It was a great finish.”
Pina is currently leading the Quarter Horse standings once again for 2017. He earned his first leading jockey title last season when he shared the honor with Berkley Packer for Leading Quarter Horse Jockey at Indiana Grand. This season, Pina has recorded 19 wins and well over $500,000 in purse earnings to hold the top spot. This is the second year in a row that Pina has won the QHRAI SSA Futurity, winning the event in 2016 with CB Come Fly With Me in a stakes record time of :17.594 seconds.
The win with Stone Cold Leader also marked the 12th trip to the winner’s circle for Thompson, who is among the track’s top five leading Quarter Horse trainers in 2017.