ATBA Breeders Festival Day card highlights

Newly minted Arizona-bred champion Prospector’s Blues came through in a field of eight to win the Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby on the stakes-filled ATBA Breeders Festival Day card on April 25.

After tracking the early pacesetters, he held on to win by a half-length over Prater Sixty Four in 1:45.98 for a mile and a sixteenth. Jungle Java, the odds-on Derby choice, had beaten Prospector’s Blues three weeks earlier when winning the Arizona Stallion Stakes, but on Derby day, he was beaten a length and a quarter in third after racing wide.

Prospector’s Blues, a gelding by Benton Creek, was bred by Fleming Thoroughbred Farm LLC. He shared championship acclaim with Crazy Al, who was honored as the state’s top 2-year-old colt or gelding, while Prospector’s Blues was the 2013 ATBA Sale Arizona-bred leading 2-year-old colt or gelding earner.

A pair of other just-elected state champions won their events on Saturday as well.

Making amends for a loss in this race last year, champion Arizona-bred older female Tribal Gal turned the Ann Owens Distaff Handicap into a procession as the now 5-year-old daughter of Tribal Rule blasted away from the field to win the six-furlong event by eight lengths in 1:08.17. Owned and bred by John Pendergast, Tribal Gal annihilated a field that included last year’s winner, Tempe.

Red Zeus, honored as the state’s champion older male, turned in an encore performance in the Dwight D. Patterson Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. A runaway winner in the event last year, Red Zeus had to work until the final stride in the 2015 renewal but he emerged victorious by a nose over G Faikir with Silvanus just behind the top two. The shortest-priced favorite among the day’s stakes events, the 5-year-old Red Sky’s gelding ran the distance in 1:43.87 at 1-10 odds. Red Zeus was bred by Dick and Peggy Hopwood and is campaigned by Peggy Hopwood.

The day’s other stakes offering for 3-year-olds, the Joanne Dye for filies at six and a half furlongs, also saw an odds-on favorite go down in defeat as Worthy Grapes skipped past Myrna Lou to win by two and three-quarter lengths. The Distorted Reality filly, bred by Eric Kruljac, Spac Enterprises and Doug Kruidenier, ran the distance in 1:17.36.

The six-furlong Lyman and Bradley Rollins Handicap, formerly known as the Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap, featured a field that included every winner of the race since 2012 and all of the horses which had finished in the top three in 2013 and 2014. The winner, with a powerful, sweeping late run, was Jamaican Memories, who had finished third in the event in 2012 and 2013. Drawing away quickly, the 7-year-old Slew City Slew gelding beat Rocked Twice by two and a quarter lengths in 1:08.58. He was bred by H & E Ranch.