Q-Racing Blog: From the Mountain to the Plains

Q-Racing Blog: From the Mountain to the Plains

Already a big winner, KJ Desparado is looking to add to his reputation.

KJ Desparado. PHOTO: Dustin Orona

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By Ty Wyant


KJ Desparado has already conquered the mountain with his win in the $3 million All American Futurity (G1) and is now down on the flatlands in an attempt to take the $1,114,815 Texas Classic Futurity (G1) at Lone Star Park on November 27.

The Texas Classic Futurity is run two days after Thanksgiving and the gelding has already provided owners John Lee, Kathy Lee and Ruben Mares with plenty of reasons to be thankful. He is one of those rarest of horses.

The son of Apollitical Jess has proven his uniqueness. He has earned $1,608,868 with a huge boost from the $1.5 million earned in the All American Futurity. He won American Quarter Horse racing’s largest purse and he is now back for more money in the Texas Classic Futurity while many All American winners call it a season after the All American and head off for a winter’s rest. 

The way he ran in his Texas Classic Futurity trial showed that he still is on top of his game. He made his first appearance since Labor Day’s All American in the Texas Classic trials and easily handled his rivals. The 3-10 favorite started well from the outside post position and went to a daylight lead before crossing the finish line on top by 1 1/4 lengths. His time of :19.661 was the second-fastest time on the first of two nights of trials. There were nine trials on each night.

This past spring, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, racing was in turmoil. Some tracks didn’t run. Other tracks conducted racing, but without fans present. At Sunland Park there was no racing after mid-March and no West Texas Futurity, a race that KJ Desparado’s trainer Wes Giles had won twice. Looking for options, Giles loaded up horses and headed to Turf Paradise. One of those horses was an unstarted KJ Desparado, who was bred and raised in Arizona. The gelding was second in his Turf Paradise Open Futurity trial and then a troubled fourth in the $88,391 futurity. He left his home state still a maiden.

Giles is one of those trainers whom astute handicappers always pay attention to when they place their bets. That especially holds true in the Grade 1 races and their trials at Ruidoso Downs.

The trainer brought KJ Desparado to Ruidoso Downs and the horse, unfortunately, gained a reputation for having trouble.

KJ Desparado won his maiden in his trial to the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity (G1). In the finals, he started in the middle of the track was banged twice soon after the start. He finished sixth at 25-1 odds. Obviously, he wasn’t getting much respect, especially for a Giles-trained prospect.

In the $1 million Rainbow Futurity (G1), he drew the second post position on a sloppy and sealed track. His start took him out of the race. He stumbled out of the gate and made contact with another horse. He ran along the rail, finishing seventh at 10-1 odds.

In his All American Futurity trial, KJ Desparado showed his extraordinary talent at 1-9 odds. He broke in from the ninth post position and hit the horse next to him. This time, he went on to win by 3 lengths with the fastest time on the first trial day. There were 15 trials on each afternoon.

In the All American Futurity, Jess Savin Candy was the strong favorite after winning the Ruidoso Futurity and the Rainbow Futurity. However, handicappers who had checked out KJ Desparado’s races knew he had a shot if he didn’t have any trouble, and could be a value at 5-1 odds. He ran a perfect race from the outside post position and ran down FDD Scout to win by a neck.

Now he's back and still on track.

It has been quite a year for KJ Desparado. He left Arizona winless and is now a bona fide championship contender.

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