Tommy the Train derails competition in Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby

Despite being undefeated over Indiana Grand’s racetrack, Tommy the Train was not receiving the early focus in the $81,500 Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby Saturday, July 8. But after the race was a different story. The three-year-old gelded son of Freighttrain B rolled over his competition with an open length win, establishing a new track record in the process for the 400-yard dash.

Tommy the Train and James Flores roll past the finish in the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby in a new track record time for the 400-yard dash. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

An easy winner in his trial, Tommy the Train met up with his biggest rival, other trial winner Jess Kool Lady soon after the start of the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby. Both horses went to battle and proved it was a two-horse race to the finish. Jockey James Flores seemed to find another gear with Tommy the Train late in the race and scooted away for the win by two and one-quarter lengths over Jess Kool Lady and Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, clearly second best in the race, finishing two and one-quarter lengths ahead of the rest of the field that landed Inundated and Juan Galvan in third place in the photo.

Tommy the Train stopped the timer in :19.324 to post a new track record, lowering the previous record set by My Royal Wagon and Harold Collins earlier in the year in a time of :19.357. He paid $8.40, $2.60, $2.10 across the board.

Trainer Larry Sharp (far left) is joined by Owners Brad Sharp and Brant Barley for the trophy presentation of the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby. Dianne Bennett, executive director of the QHRAI, made the trophy presentation and is joined by Jockey James Flores (far right). (Photo by Linscott Photography)

“He (Tommy the Train) is a pleasure to ride,” said Flores. “I had the luxury of helping break this horse as a yearling and he’s always been one of my favorites. He’s fun to ride and I want to thank the partnership for flying me up here to ride him.”

Flores, who is based in Oklahoma, is currently ranked second in the nation for purse earnings this season. He’s only one of two jockeys that have accumulated more than $1 million in purses so his schedule keeps him on the road. Last fall, when Tommy the Train made his first trip to Indiana Grand for the Governor’s Stakes trials and final, Flores had other commitments for the Texas Classic and Trials and couldn’t accompany the horse to the Hoosier State. Besides those two wins Tommy the Train picked up with David Pinon filling in for Flores, all of his victories have been with Flores.

Tommy the Train is now a perfect four for four at Indiana Grand, with two of those wins in stakes action. He is trained by Larry Sharp and owned by the partnership of Brant and Jon Barley and Brad Sharp. Tommy the Train now has six career wins in 10 career starts with more than $150,000 in career earnings.

“I have been running horses from this family all the way back to this horse’s great grandmother,” said Sharp, who hails from Joplin, Mo. “This horse is a half-brother to Sudden Sensation (Grade I winner) and his mother (Okie Dokey Annie) was also a nice race mare, winning the Kansas Futurity (Grade II). I sold his mother to Duane Murphy and he raised this horse. But he didn’t want a gelding and priced him at $15,000. My son and nephews were looking to form a partnership so they bought him. He’s turned out to be a good investment for them.”

Tommy the Train has run his entire career at 350 yards, with the exception of the trial for the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby. Sharp knew his horse was ready, but had some concerns about the added distance.

“I wasn’t sure if he (Tommy the Train) could handle 400 yards, but it didn’t seem to bother him,” said Sharp. “He’s always very calm, even in the barn, and nothing seems to ever bother him. He eats and sleeps a lot. We will bring him back up (to Indiana Grand) this fall for the Derby (QHRAI Derby) in October.”