It didn’t take long for trainer Chris O’Dell to decide that Racy High Roller was the horse he had to have when he attended the 2015 Heritage Place Sale. In fact it only took him about 60 minutes he said while he strolled around the sale checking horses to buy for owner Abigail Kawananakoa.
“When I went to Oklahoma I found that horse within an hour of walking around,” O’Dell said. “I called Ms. Abigail and I said ‘I’ve got to have this horse, please let me buy this horse.’ He was in the second day of the sale so I had to wait a whole day to get him. I bought him and then everybody came to tell me what a nice horse I had bought. Now we’ve proved that he can run a little bit, that’s for sure.”
Bred by Sunflower Supply Company, the 8-1 shot Racy High Roller showed his stuff in Saturday's Grade 2, $430,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity, as the Missouri-bred gelding by One Famous Eagle posted a neck win over the talented Thirty Six Curls to earn his second win in six career starts. Racy High Roller’s only previous stakes experience came when he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. In fact, he was the only horse in the field with prior Grade 1 experience.
Ridden by Cody Jensen, Racy High Roller was fifth during the early part of the race before making a big run after the first 100 yards. The sorrel gelding flew from there and maintained the lead over the equally late charging Thirty Six Curls. Racy High Roller covered the 350 yards in :17.635 while earning $176,400 for the win. Purchased for $125,000 at the Heritage Place Sale, Racy High Roller has now earned $259,250.
“I was probably more happy with that one than anything I’ve ever had,” O’Dell said. “I wanted to do well for Ms. Abigail. This is the first one she let me pick out so I’m happy. I love that horse. He’s in the Two Million and I think we’ll point him towards it. As long as he’s healthy, which he always has been, we’ll point to as many big races as we can find. We bought him in Oklahoma so he wasn’t paid to things out here so we’ve made some late payments and paid him up to some things. This was a really good field. I was jumping up and down. I was riding him harder than Cody I think.”
O’Dell had simple riding instructions for the two-time AQHA champion jockey.
“When I legged Cody up I told him ride him like you used to with Catchme,” O’Dell continued. “And (Cody) did exactly the same.”
‘Catchme is, of course, Catcheminyourdreams, the three-time champion aged gelding and two-time overall champion aged horse.
“Like Catchme, (Racy High Roller) doesn’t like a lot of whip and in fact Cody told me that he wished he knew him better because when he used the whip it actually messed him up a little bit,” O’Dell added. “He’s a heavy headed type horse and Catchme was a lot the same way. You just kind of have to hand ride him. That’s why I picked Cody when we had a chance to and I thought he would fit him like a glove. I was right this time. We’ll see how he comes back like we always say, but naturally we’re going to point to one of the (big fall futurities like the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million). I expect him to come back and we’ll hit one of those.”
Jensen rode Catchmeinyourdreams to three consecutive wins in the Grade 1 Robert L. Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship and one in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap. Jensen recognized right away that Racy High Roller had a little bit of Catchme in his running style.
“This is the first time I rode him,” Jensen said. “I took him to the gates the other morning, but I didn’t realized that he was such a heavy headed horse. If I had known him a little bit better I think he would have run better without so much stick tonight. I kind of just picked and chose my spots. I tapped him a couple of times. He mostly just likes you to help hold him up and I felt lucky that not being able to ride him before that I was able to adapt to him as quick as I did.
“He was bopping his head a little bit in there and I have to give big credit to my headman. He did a heck of a job. He really got him standing looking at the track at the right time. He got away great. (Thirty Six Curls) was always having the pressure on my right from the start, but I got a little bit of the jump on that inside horse and I was able to always keep him right there by a neck or so off me, but I could see him the whole time.”
Racy High Roller is a half-brother to 2016 All American Derby finalist First Fancy Racy. His family includes champion Miss Racy Jess and Grade 1 winners Miss Racy Vike and Volcom.
With Cruz Mendez up for trainer Jose Flores, Thirty Six Curls was making only his third career start. A winner in his first two career starts, Thirty Six Curls earned $71,400 for running second here. The Tres Seis gelding is owned by Juan Humberto Moya. Sent off at 30-1 odds, Howard Nichols’ Six Zeroes finishing third in this event. Jose Flores also saddled Six Zeroes, while Jairo Rangel piloted him to earnings of $50,400. Thirty Six Curls and Six Zeroes are both extremely well bred. Thirty Six Curls is from the family of Champion of Champions winners Ocean Runaway and Wave Carver, while Six Zeroes is from the family of Grade 1 winners Kingman Kid and Hulapai and 2016 Kindergarten winner One Proud Eagle. Kiddy Up Cowgirl, Doctor Fantastic, Ld Is Back, Start Something Bad, Hawktomatic, Sweet Aguila and Better Check Him Out completed the field.