TF Jess A Leader scores first stakes win in QHRAI Derby

TF Jess A Leader has been close a couple times in stakes action, but Saturday, Oct. 22 he added the tag of stakes winner to his credentials in the 20th running of the $130,360 QHRAI Derby at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Ridden by Jesse Levario, the sorrel son of Mr Jess Perry earned his second win of the year for trainer Sacramento Chavez after a claim at Remington Park for $12,500 in April.

TF Jess a Leader has proven to be a good claim for Jose and Sacramento Chavez. He pulled away from the field for the win in the QHRAI Derby Saturday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

TF Jess a Leader has proven to be a good claim for Jose and Sacramento Chavez. He pulled away from the field for the win in the QHRAI Derby Saturday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post seven, TF Jess A Leader broke well and was the first horse to appear to be advancing on the outside. Slick Melody and Santiago Mendez were holding their own in the center of the track while BP Tres Seis Policy and Rodney Prescott were getting early calls along the inside. Halfway through the 400 yard dash, TF Jess A Leader kicked into another gear and strode away from his opponents, winning by one and one-quarter length at the finish line. Dynamite 123 and Luis Ruiz finished in a close finish for second over race favorite Captain BD and Alejandro Luna for third.

“I don’t really know much about this horse,” said Levario, who was making his first start over the Indiana track and his first start aboard TF Jess a Leader. “I studied his replays and it looked like he didn’t break well in the trials. He broke right alongside the eight (Captain BD) and stayed right with him. I sat down on him about the three-quarters and kept pushing and pushing. He really responded. It was a good thing to have the favorite next to me. That helped a lot.”

Trainer Sacramento Chavez, second from right, accepts the trophy on behalf of TF Jess A Leader Saturday, Oct. 22 in the QHRAI Derby. Dianne Bennett, executive director of the QHRAI, made the trophy presentation along with Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Trainer Sacramento Chavez, second from right, accepts the trophy on behalf of TF Jess A Leader Saturday, Oct. 22 in the QHRAI Derby. Dianne Bennett, executive director of the QHRAI, made the trophy presentation along with Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

TF Jess A Leader, the third choice of the field, paid $16.00, $6.80 and $4.00. The time of the race was :19.637 seconds.

Owned by Jose Chavez, TF Jess A Leader is now three for 12 lifetime. His career bankroll was boosted to more than $100,000 with his first career stakes win in the QHRAI Derby, one of three original stakes races held during the inaugural season of pari-mutuel Quarter Horse racing in the state of Indiana in 1997.

“We couldn’t do much with this horse recently and we have been resting him a lot,” said Sacramento Chavez, who is a multiple stakes winning trainer at Indiana Grand over the past two years. “He has some knee problems and we will work on that this winter, but we plan to come back here with him next year.”

During a post race interview with Martha Claussen, who assisted during the evening with handicapping and television duties for the Wrangler Q-Racing Aces, Chavez noted that he enjoys racing in Indiana.

“This is where we do most of our races,” added Chavez. “We really love the horses. All my life, I have kept horses, even before I was racing. You have to have money to keep the horses, but we really enjoy them.”

Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse continues through Saturday, Oct. 29. Racing is conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:05 PM EST with Saturday racing beginning at 6:05 PM.