LARC NEWS Posted: 8/21/2017 2:43:54 AM

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      Trainer Paul Jones saw how showing patience with his  trainee, Evil Genius, worked in a positive way, as the talented gelding developed into the winner of this year’s Governor’s Cup Derby at Los Alamitos. The same formula has worked wonders with Jones and Thompson Racing LLC’s That Rico, as he has slowly grown to become of the meet’s top 3-year-olds, highlighted by his victory over a star-studded field in Sunday’s Grade 2, $259,900 Golden State Derby at Los Alamitos.

Ridden by 23-year-old Jesus Rios Ayala, the meet’s leading Quarter Horse jockey, That Rico flew out of the gate from the outside post number 10 to take a 1 ¼ length early lead in the Golden State. He cruised from there, leading by a length at the midway point of the 400-yard race before crossing the wire a half-length ahead of Abigail Kawananakoa’s Trippys Royal Jess and Veronica Gail Worth’s Look At Her, a pair of fillies dead-heating for second place in this race. The field also included stakes winner and fastest qualifier Kissed by An Eagle, who ran fourth, plus Grade 1 winners Chazaq and Lotta Blues Man, who finished fifth and eighth, respectively. This was the richest running of the Golden State since 2010.  

The night belonged to the Double Bar S Ranch-bred That Rico, as the gelding by Carters Cartel covered the distance in :19.71, while posting his third victory in a row. The gelding had previously won his Golden State Derby trial by 1 ¼ lengths and before that the Grade 3 Independence Day Handicap by a nose. He also won his trial to the Grade 3, $224,000 El Primero Del Ano Derby, ran second in the El Primero final, and finished third in the Dillingham Handicap.  That’s four in the money finishes in stakes races this year after making only the Golden State Juvenile Invitational during his 2-year-old campaign. 

“The horse has gotten good,” Jones said. “When (a horse) starts winning, their confidence builds up.  He’s a nice horse and he’s gotten really good. We bought the horse (privately) from Double Bar S Ranch. I used to train his mother. Her name was Jess Like That and she was a cool mare. I really liked her. This was her first baby. When Double Bar S gave us an opportunity to buy him (as a yearling), I just jumped on it. It’s worked out.

“It took him until his 3-year-old year to come alive, but sometimes you have to be patient. With him, it was more mental, just him being a colt. Sometimes it just takes them a while to come into their own, mature and learn how to run. I knew he was a nice horse as a 2-year-old and I always said ‘this is going to be a nice horse, right here.’ Sometimes things don’t always go right. It takes some a while to pan out. It was kind of the same thing with (Governor’s Cup winner) Evil Genius. We really liked him as a 2-year-old, but we just didn’t get him to pan out until this year. As long as they show you that the talent is there, sometimes it takes a while to get it out of them. The good thing about (That Rico) is that he’s really sound. He can bounce back in the two weeks. After the (Golden State) trials, the next day he was bucking and playing in the hot walker. He’s just such a good, sound, sturdy horse. Some horses will run their guts out in the trials, come back a little sore, and not come back as strong in the final. He’s able to come back strong after trials.”

Jones also credited the patience that Jesus Rios Ayala has shown aboard That Rico.

“Jesus Rios Ayala has made a really big difference,” Jones added. “He really fits this horse. What we’ve found out is that this horse just doesn’t like to be whipped. He should have won the El Primero, but when whipped on the right he would duck in. If you whipped him on the left he would duck out. It cost him the El Primero when he ran second. Rios Ayala figured out that the horse just doesn’t like to be whipped. He just hand-rides him. The horse goes straight and does his job.”

For Jones, celebrating this victory with his good friend, Terry Thompson, also made it a memorable one.

“I’ve been partners with Terry (and Thompson Racing) for quite a while now,” Jones said. “All the horses that Terry is involved in, me and him (own) half and half. Our partnership has been really successful. We’re really good friends and get along great. We’ve had a lot of success together. I can’t say more than I’m happy when I do well for him. He’s been a great friend. It’s been a super partnership, a super friendship, and it makes it all the better when you win. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. We’ve been pretty lucky together. I train the horses and Terry’s got the luck. You got have a combination of the two.”

Jones and Thompson Racing have also been breeding horses now for the past 10 years with some of their homebred runners being the stakes performers Foose Is Loose, Henoshersecret, Senor Gianni, and Hes Regal. Jones, Thompson Racing, and Burns Ranch also stand noted stallion Favorite Cartel.

“It’s been a good relationship,” said Terry Thompson “We’ve had a lot fun. We’ve bred horses together, we’ve raised them, we’ve ran them. We’ve had an absolute great time. Paul has been a great partner, a great trainer. Our wives get along great, the kids play together, and it’s been a great family atmosphere for the whole team. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That Rico earned $109,158 for the win to take his lifetime earnings to $188,805. He has now won seven of 13 career starts.  

“(That Rico) has been awesome,” Thompson added. “Since we gelded that horse, he’s been a completely different horse. He’s been a handful. Paul calls him the clown of the barn. He’s a character and just a fun horse to be around. He’s just been lights out. He just explodes out of the gate and we know that here, that’s three-quarters of a battle. If you get out of the gate like he does, you have a chance to win every single time.”

Ridden by Eduardo Nicasio for trainer Chris O’Dell, Trippys Royal Jess earned $37,686 for her dead-heat finish in this race. The filly by Apollitical Jess won the Indigo Illusion Handicap earlier this year and was second in both the Seal Beach Handicap and La Pacifica Handicap. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, Look At Her also banked $37,686 for her runner-up effort. A full sister to the millionaire He Looks Hot, the Walk Thru Fire filly was an allowance winner back on June 11. This was her stakes debut.

Mark and Peggy Brown’s Kissed By An Eagle veered in and bumped at the start on the way to running fourth. Trained by Roman Figueroa, the gelding by One Famous Eagle earned $18,193 for finishing fourth. Dutch Masters III’s Chazaq, winner of the Ed Burke Million Futurity last year, was fifth. He earned $15,594. Cartel Sixes, Thats A Good Reason, Lotta Blues Man, Seared, and Designs By Dynasty completed the field.

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