On Dec. 8, Turf Paradise featured a stakes-filled card highlighted by the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity events for 2-year-old Arizona-breds.
When last seen at Turf Paradise, Keyson had to settle for fifth behind stablemate Call Waiting in the Turf Paradise Open Spring Futurity, but he turned the tables on that rival with a front-running victory in the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity Colts and Geldings division. Call Waiting was beaten two and half lengths while race favorite Loud N Proud was third. Keyson, a gelding by Salute the Sarge, ran six furlongs in 1:10.86. The winner and runner-up are both owned and bred by Triple AAA Ranch and trained by Scott Rollins.
As in the colt and gelding division of the event, the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity Fillies division also featured a reversal of previous fortunes, as Rents Over Due held off odds-on Let Me Fly to win by two lengths in 1:12:00. Let Me Fly had finished in front of Rents Over Due in their two previous meetings this fall. Rents Over Due, a daughter of Allover bred by Harry and Cheryl Keshian, runs for Sawyer Cattle Company and trainer Dan McFarlane.
Also on the Breeders’ Futurity day card were the Cactus Wren and Cactus Flower, six and a half-furlong events for 3-year-olds and up which are Arizona-breds or which went through the ATBA Fall Sale.
Fortified Effort, winner of last year’s Arizona Breeders’ Futurity for colts and geldings, returned a year later to win the Cactus Wren, adding to a resume that includes victories this year in the Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby at Turf Paradise last April and the Colorado Derby and Inaugural, both at Arapahoe Downs. Last of eight midway through the race, the gelded son of Ez Effort cruised to the lead after a wide rally, pulling away to a three-quarter-length victory over Jilas Miracle. Race favorite Yo Y Me held on for third after being involved in a three-way duel for the early lead. Fortified Effort was bred by Fleming Thoroughbred Farm and runs for an ownership group that includes J. Lloyd Yother, trainer Kevin Eikleberry, William Matthews and Marvin Fleming. The time for the event was 1:17.20.
Sierrita, winner of the Cactus Flower when it was last run in 2016, returned for an encore performance, drawing away to win by two and a quarter lengths over McKenzie Honey. Now 5, the daughter of Top Hit was bred by Triple AAA Ranch and now runs for Seven Arms Stable. David Van Winkle trains. Even-money race favorite Foggia was involved in the early proceedings but ended last of six. The final time was 1:17:17.