LARC NEWS Posted: 3/31/2019 3:05:55 AM


               The Parsons family won the La Primera Del Año Derby for the second year in a row after even money favorite Terrific First Down cruised to a length victory in the 400-yard race on Saturday at Los Alamitos.

            Owned and bred by the Parsons Family Limited Partnership and trained by Chris O’Dell, Terrific First Down broke sharply from post number seven with Eduardo Nicasio up and eventually took the lead over J. Garvan Kelly, Nancy Yearsley and Lloyd Yother’s Symbol Of Faith. The two talented fillies separated themselves from the rest of the field with the filly by FDD Dynasty crossing the wire first in a time of :19.803. Symbol Of Faith was a clear second from there and finished a half-length ahead of third place finisher Stel A Gambler.   

            For the Parsons, the good times just keep on rolling thanks to a slew of top fillies and mares. In 2018, the Parsons Ranch’s A Political Lady won the La Primera plus two other stakes races. Earlier this year, Terrific First Down’s older half-sister, Thermonuclear Energy, won the Grade 1 Charger Bar Handicap after scoring a pair of stakes wins in 2018. Led by the accomplishments of those two distaffers, the Parsons Family were honored with the 2018 Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders Special Achievement Award on January 24.   

“That meant a lot because behind it all it’s been Jay’s folks, Polly and Jay Parsons.,” said Char Parsons on Saturday night. “They had a lot of the stock that we are working with right now. It meant a lot as well because of our close friendship and love with Jay’s sister Cindy and (her husband) Ron Hatley. To be able to do this with family is a big deal. That night was a total surprise in so many ways. Chris told us that maybe we were going to win an award. It ended up being a very special night.”

            A Political Lady joined her connections as champion after being named the 2018 AQHA and PCQHRA 3-year-old filly of the year. And after winning this year’s La Primera and also running third against males in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on February 9, Terrific First Down has positioned herself as a top contender in this year’s 3-year-old filly category.

“She’s always been a special filly,” Jay Parsons said of Terrific First Down. “We know her breeding so we were probably prejudice, but she’s always been a really good looking filly. Wining this race last year was special and A Political Lady turned out to be a very nice filly. Terrific First Down finished nicely tonight and to know that she can do that is another special part.”

            “When we were breaking the babies last year to qualify, Cody Jensen came to watch them,” O’Dell added. “He watch them all qualify and he said, ‘Right there is one of your runners for sure. I’m not even on her, but I can see that’s a nice one.’ He was referring to Terrific First Down. I took my time with her. I waited and waited and wait. I ran her and she won. I ran her back and she went wicked fast. We ran her a couple of more times, but she lost a little confidence. Then she flipped over down at the barn by accident and knocked her withers down. We had about three (more) races with her and she was kind of uncomfortable. It took some time, but now she’s starting to put it together. She’s one of those that can break pretty good, stay out of trouble and finish strong. A lot of horses can’t go 400 or 440, but she can. Those are the good kinds to have. She’s royally bred. FDD Dynasty is one of the best stallions and her dam, Terrific Energy, is a pretty good broodmare.”

            In addition to her fall in the barn, Terrific First Down has had her moments in the starting gate.  

“She has a go to move to get away from something if she panics – some horses jump forward, some go backwards – hers is she wants to come up off the ground and run backwards. Sometimes she’ll act up in the gates and that’s her move. When she freaks out that’s what she does. That’s how she got hurt. It just happens with her. We are doing some things that are working pretty well with her. We’ll keep doing our best. She’s following A Political Lady. Those are big shoes to fill. A Political Lady won a lot of races – six in a row - and this filly might be on her way to doing something like that. If she keeps running like she did tonight, she might roll off some wins herself.”

            Terrific First Down earned $88,200 for the win to take her career earnings to $130,629. This was her fourth win in 10 career starts. On Sunday morning, Jay and Char Parsons will head back to their ranch in Sanger, California, back to taking care of their horses.

“We have about 40 head of horses that we have to feed and take care of,” Jay Parsons, 73, said. “We had the yearlings there, now they’re 2-year-olds and they’re down here getting ready to race. We stay busy, especially being as old as I am.”

           Ridden by Carlos Huerta for trainer Juan Aleman, Symbol Of Faith earned $35,700 for her second place finish. The homebred filly by Tac It Like A Man and out of Answer The Dream has fifth in last year Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity. She also qualified to the Golden State Million Futurity here last year. She’s earned $171,852 in her career.

            Dr. Steve Burns owned the third and fourth place finishers in this race. Stel A Gambler earned $25,200 for running third, while stablemate You Caught My Eye earned $14,700 for fourth. Mike Casselman saddled both fillies. No Telling, Anas Image, Favorite Wise Lady, Jess Motions and Always Dreaming completed the field.


     Chris O’Dell was moving slow in the winner’s circle area on Saturday. And there was a reason to it.

      “Yesterday, my pony fell and rolled over the top of me as I was riding him,” O’Dell said. “I hurt my knee and my ankle and my shoulder. The pony is doing well and I’ll be okay. I was bringing (El Primero Del Año Derby finalist) Tac Me Up back after they had stood him in the gate. We were galloping along and my pony missed the ground and down we go. I was a little banged up, but I feel a little better right now after this race.”


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