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August 30, 2013

Qualified for the big race

Pryor trainer has entry in All American Futurity



The Quarter Horse race that every owner, breeder, trainer and jockey wants to win is Ruidoso Downs’ signature event, the All American Futurity. It is the richest race for 2-year-olds in North America with a purse of approximately $2.6 million.

The New Mexico track holds the race each Labor Day – a tradition that’s 54 years old.

Pryor trainer Amber Blair has a horse qualified for the race.

“This is our first time to be here,” Blair said by telephone this week. “This is the first time we thought we had a horse good enough to qualify.”

The horse is named He’s Relentless. “My husband, Jason, saw him at the Heritage sale,” Blair said. “He called Tom Maher to tell him he thought he had a prospect.”

The colt was bred by Sunflower Supply Co., headquartered in Galena, Kan. Racehorses bred by Sunflower have earned more than $1.57 million.

He’s Relentless is by a stallion named One Famous Eagle standing at the famous Four Sixes ranch in Texas. His mother, This Dreams Flying, is by Strawfly Special.

He’s Relentless has had four races, including a second-place finish in the Heritage trials at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

Open to any 2-year-old, a total of 278 horses entered the All American trials. “It’s an honor just to run in the finals,” Blair said.

Over two days, Aug. 14 and 15, the 278 entries ran qualifying races. The top five times from each day make up the 10 horses which will run in the All American on Monday.

This year, for the first time, the top five times from each day made the race, as opposed to the top 10 times regardless of day. “Things can change drastically real quick down here,” Blair said. “They thought this would make it more fair.”

And it does make it more fair. Each horse runs on the same ground as others trying to qualify. If one day the track was dry and the next it was sloppy, that would not be a fair playing field.

The qualifying races are 440 yards, the same distance run in the All American. He’s Relentless ran his qualifying race in 1:58 on Aug. 15. He started the race at 3 to 2 odds and came from the third gate position.

Gate positions have not been drawn, but Blair would most like to run from position 2, 3 or 4.

“He liked that three hole pretty well,” Blair said.

Jockey Cody Smith is in the irons and he knows the horse. “He’s rode him every out of his life,” Blair said. “No one has ever rode him except him and Jason. Jason broke him and gallops him.”

In the time trial race, the colt threw his ears forward and watched the finish line. Blair agrees he has personality. “He always knows where he’s at,” she said.

Amber’s father, Randy Blair, is the manager at Might Acres in Pryor, a horse operation which stands several Thoroughbred studs. He and Amber’s mother will soon be on their way to New Mexico to watch the race.

“She’s been training awhile,” Randy said. “But she’s pretty young to get one in the All American already.”

Training American Quarter Horses since 2003, Amber Blair has sent out 710 starters and the winners of 102 races. Racing primarily on such Midwestern tracks as Prairie Meadows, Canterbury Park and Will Rogers Downs, she has conditioned earners of $1,506,844.

The All American Futurity gained its lofty status through unique financial cooperation between the track and horsemen. It started in 1959, with a purse of $129,686.85. It has always billed itself as the richest race in American Quarter Horse racing. In 1978, the purse surpassed a million dollars, and in 1982, the winner's portion of the purse totaled more than $1 million for the first time.

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