The 2012 Spring Breeders’ Festival, headlined by the $55,334 Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby, featured the return of three 2011 Arizona-bred champions, but only one found the winner’s circle.
Just a day after being honored as the Arizona-bred 2-year-old colt of 2011, A Political Time was a 3-5 prospect in the mile and a sixteenth Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby but lost all chance after missing the break and spotting the rest of the field many lengths. Ten Ninety Seven, who had to settle for third behind A Political Time in the April 7 Arizona Stallion Stakes in their last meeting, led for much of the way and galloped to a four and three-quarter-length victory in 1:45.87. Owned and bred by Vaughn Calvert Ranch LLC and trained by Jimmie Pickard, the Sideburn gelding earned his first stakes victory. Wildcat Energy and All Mighty Buck were in nearest pursuit at the finish while A Political Time, who managed to reach a point of contention midway through the event, finished seventh of eight. The race can be viewed here: Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby
For Page Springs, champion Arizona-bred 2-year-old filly of 2011, the Joanne Dye went according to plan for all but the final strides. Sent off the 3-10 choice, Page Springs burst from the gate and rapidly bounded away from the field, but her once-wide margin was nearly gone in the late stages of the race. Maggieredvanentune chased down the tiring favorite, getting to the finish three-quarters of a length in front, but the pair was four lengths clear of Hindu Kush in third. Unable to win in five starts at 2, Maggieredvanentune has won two of six starts at 3, the Joanne Dye being her first stakes win. The daughter of Red Sky’s was bred and is owned by Marva Pennington and is trained by Ron Pharis. The six and a half-furlong Joanne Dye was timed in 1:15.98.
Kicking off stakes action on the Saturday card, the Ann Owens Distaff Handicap drew 2011 champion Arizona-bred 3-year-old filly Top Debutante, and the 2-5 favorite came running late to win by a decisive two and three-quarter lengths over Stormy Crystal. A full sister to champion Arizona-bred older male Uh Oh Bango, Top Debutante finished the six-furlong event in 1:09.49 for owner-breeder Triple AAA Ranch and trainer R. Kory Owens.
Scoring his first stakes victory since the 2009 ATBA Spring Sales Stakes, veteran campaigner Espresso Springs won the Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap after dueling race favorite Outa Crown into defeat and having enough in reserve to hold F D Icy at bay by three-quarters of a length. The Rocky Bar gelding, bred by Robert and Mary Ellen McKee and owned by trainer Rick Wise and Richard Antle, went six furlongs in 1:09.37.
The lone turf event on the stakes card, the Dwight D. Patterson Handicap, was won by Salado Tribe, who tracked pacesetting Seattle Memo throughout most of the mile and a sixteenth event and emerged with a three-quarter-length victory over that horse in 1:44.84. Second in last year’s Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby, the Dwight D. Patterson was the Tribal Rule gelding’s first stakes win. Trained by David Van Winkle, Salado Tribe was bred by Fleming Thoroughbred Farm and is owned by Barbara Swenson.
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