Early speed dominates Fall Festival events

Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders’ Fall Festival, featuring four stakes events for Arizona-breds or ATBA Fall Mixed Sale graduates, was contested on Dec. 6. On a wet track rated “muddy” at the time of the Cactus Flower but upgraded to “good” for the remainder of the stakes action, the four races were dominated by speedsters.

The Arizona Breeders’ Futurity for Arizona-bred 2-year-olds showcased a pair of juveniles bred by Fleming Thoroughbred Farm. The colt and gelding division was won by Prospector’s Blues, who dueled Hawkeye Gold through much of the race and held off late-running Jungle Java with a length and a quarter to spare to earn his first career victory. The Benton Creek gelding ran six furlongs in 1:11.09.

The filly division went to Myrna Lou, making amends for an off-the-board finish as the odds-on favorite in the ATBA Sales Stakes earlier in the meet. Although never able to pull away from a determined Anita Sunset, the daughter of Top Hit maintained a narrow lead all the way to the wire to win by a neck. It was almost 12 lengths back to Tactical Rocket as the top two ran six furlongs in 1:11.47.

The Cactus Flower and Cactus Wren, both run at 6 1/2 furlongs, are open to Arizona-breds or graduates of an ATBA Fall Mixed Sale. Both winners this year were bred by Triple AAA Ranch and sired by Rocky Bar.

Rockin Home, winner of the colts and geldings division of the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity last year, was a clever winner of the Cactus Wren. Leading throughout, the 3-year-old gelding turned back Mo Rock through the stretch, then held off a late charge by longshot Silvanus. The final margin was a neck in 1:16.60.

Camille got to the lead in the Cactus Flower shortly after the start and stayed there as odds-on Aware chased her through the stretch. The top two drew well away from the rest of the small field, as Camille held a length and three-quarter lead at the wire with nearly seven lengths between Aware and third-place Toyon Bay. The time was 1:17.14.