WRs Moonin Thewagon and Sammy Mendez turned in an impressive win in the 12th running of the $112,240 Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby at Indiana Grand.
Starting from post six in the nine-horse final, WRs Moonin Thewagon broke in fourth as Paint Me Brown and Uriel Cervantes led the way early on. As the field moved into the second half of the 400-yard dash, WRs Moonin Thewagon was able to regroup and lengthen his stride, closing quickly for the win by a neck over Paint Me Brown. CC Moonflash and L. Daniel Martinez finished third. The time of the sprint was 20.05 seconds.
“When he broke, I hit him with my left hand and he veered in,” explained Mendez, who is on track again in 2021 to be Indiana Grand’s leading jockey. “I got him straightened out and tapped him with my right hand and he took off. This horse runs his heart out every time. He’s always steady in every race.”
WRs Moonin Thewagon is owned and bred by Williams Racing Stable of LaCenter, Kentucky. Randy Smith trains the talented grey son of Moonin the Eagle.
“You can’t hardly beat the PYC mares,” said Randy Williams regarding the dam of WRs Moonin Thewagon WRs Quick Wagon (PYC Paint Your Wagon). “We have his full brother at home and he’s grey too. We will have Randy pick him up this fall. The happiest day of the whole year is the day Randy (Smith) backs his trailer up to our barn and picks up the yearlings. Gwen (Williams) and I mess with them up to that point, but then Randy can deal with them.”
Smith and the Williams family have teamed up for numerous champions over the past few years. The Williams are strong components of the Indiana Quarter Horse circuit, and rarely miss a stakes race. WRs Moonin Thewagon was one of their top freshmen last year and looks like he’s returned to his previous form in 2021.
“He didn’t really grow a whole lot,” said Smith, who is Indiana’s top trainer for the past six years and is leading the standings again in 2021. “He seems more focused this year and more down to business. And, the distance didn’t hurt him. He seems to like a little more distance.”
WRs Moonin Thewagon is now five for seven lifetime and increased his career bankroll to more than $170,000 with the win. He has turned in all his starts at Indiana Grand and has been ridden every time by Mendez. The Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby is his second stakes win, adding it to the Governor’s Stakes win last fall.
The Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby is a precursor to the second all-Quarter Horse day set for Saturday in Shelbyville. A total of 16 races will be held beginning at 10 a.m. All 16 races on the card are trials for the upcoming stakes races set for the third all-Quarter Horse racing day at Indiana Grand on July 24.