Red Zeus headlines Arizona Breeders’ Festival

Red Zeus was the star of the 2013 Arizona Breeders’ Festival on April 27, running down a loose-on-the-lead Claypool to win the day’s headline event, the Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby, by three-quarters of a length. The son of Red Sky’s added the $56,129 Breeders’ Derby to his 16-length victory earlier in the month in the Arizona Stallion Stakes. The mile and a sixteenth event was timed in 1:42.65.

Red Zeus is a homebred running for Dick and Peggy Hopwood and trained by Dan McFarlane.

Tribal Gal was making her first start in her native state in the Joanne Dye, but after winning three of seven starts in California, including a victory in an optional claiming event at Golden Gate in her last start, she was an odds-on choice against five fellow 3-year-old fillies in the six and a half-furlong Joanne Dye. The race was never in doubt, as the daughter of Tribal Rule moved out to an early lead and extended her advantage the rest of the way, eventually winning by six and a quarter lengths in 1:14.76. Owned and bred by John Pendergast, Tribal Gal is trained by R. Kory Owens.

The three Breeders’ Festival events for older horses were dominated by horses who had run in last year’s events – all won by horses who had finished in the top three in a 2012 Festival event, with most minor placings likewise taken by Festival veterans.

The 2012 Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap produced two 2013 Festival winners, as last year’s winner, Espresso Springs, returned this year to repeat and runner-up F D Icy moved to the turf to win the Dwight D. Patterson Handicap.

Espresso Springs, bred by Robert and Mary Ellen McKee and running for trainer Rick Wise and Geri Gowdy, jumped out to the early lead as he had in 2012 and never looked back, winning by four and a quarter lengths over Frisky Ricky and odds-on Jamaican Memories. The final time for six furlongs was 1:07.82 for the 6-year-old gelding by Rocky Bar.

Given only modest consideration in an eight-horse field, F D Icy blasted to a huge lead in the early stages of the Dwight D. Patterson and raced on to five and a quarter-length victory over favored Bullittone, with 2012 race victor Salado Tribe back in third. The time for about a mile and a sixteenth on the turf was 1:43.05. Trained by Chad Story, the 5-year-old Deposit Ticket gelding races for owner-breeder Roys Mansur.

The top three finishers from the 2012 Joanne Dye were in the gate for the Ann Owens Distaff Handicap, led by Page Springs who had just the night before been honored for the second straight year as a divisional Arizona-bred champion. The race proved to be deja vu for the champion filly’s connections, however; just as in the Joanne Dye last year, their star rushed out to the lead, only to relinquish it in the final strides. This year, the longshot upsetter was Hindu Kush, third in the Joanne Dye, who reeled in the even-money favorite to win the six-furlong Ann Owens by a head in 1:08.84.

Giving sire Red Sky’s a second Breeders’ Festival winner, Hindu Kush was bred by Fleming Thoroughbred Farm and races for Marvin Fleming. She is trained by Bill Brashears.