Local Sports

Beach Blast tops Blue River Derby trials at Indiana Grand

Beach Blast, the standout three-year-old from the Randy Smith Stable, topped the list of 37 starters Saturday seeking a spot in the upcoming $100,000 Blue River Derby final with a time of 19.628 seconds.


The sorrel gelding won the final trial of four to advance as the likely favorite in the Blue River Derby final on July 24 at Indiana Grand.


Starting from post nine, Beach Blast had a little contact coming out of the gate, but jockey Sammy Mendez quickly got him out of trouble and headed down the track. The Escondido Beach sophomore kicked in halfway through the 400-yard dash and powered his way into the lead, scoring the win by one and one-half lengths.


Stone Lake and L.D. “Danny” Martinez finished second over Beach Diva and Erik Esqueda for third.


It was the second straight win for Beach Blast, who is now five for nine lifetime. His last start was a win in the Harley Green Derby in early June for owners Keith Bode of Columbus, Ind., and Brock Hutchinson of Indianapolis. Beach Blast, bred by Sheri Miller and purchased as a yearling for $22,000 from the QHRAI Speed Sale, now has in excess of $200,000 on his card.


“If we can get him to turn his head and run, there’s no telling how fast he’ll go,” said Smith. “We are trying to get him to run straight. We are working on that. We knew last year after his second start that he was going to be a racehorse. And, he just keeps getting better and better every time he races.”


Smith kicked off his day with a winner in the first trial as Rock Candy Almighty scored an upset. The PYC Paint Your Wagon gelding was up to 35-1 at one point before the race but being overlooked by bettors didn’t deter him or jockey Jose Beltran.


The duo broke from the gate and were side-by-side with stablemate Beach Runaway and German Rodriguez to their inside. In the final strides, Rock Candy Almighty lengthened his stride and pulled in the win by a neck over Beach Runaway. WH Imastreakingbeach and Jose Ruiz finished third.


The time of 19.981 was ranked fourth fastest overall for horses advancing to the Blue River Derby final. The gelding is owned by breeders Lance and Tammy Finlinson of Greenwood, Ind. Rock Candy Almighty paid $28.80 for the win.


“This horse seems to have been slow to get started and is coming on as a late bloomer, just like his sister (stakes winner Valiantinecandyrocks),” said Lance Finlinson. “Jose rode Rocky’s Candy Shop for us in several stakes wins, so the combination of Randy (Smith) and Jose (Beltran) is a good fit for us.”


The other trial winners were Nocatchinga Corona (photo) and Erik Esqueda from the Tony Cunningham barn and Jess Bringin It On from the Paul Martin Stable.


“As a two-year-old, she was just coming up short for the distance, and she had a couple of really rough trips last year,” said Smith. “She is a full sister to Jess Z Bob, so we’ve always liked her.”


The full field of qualifiers for the Blue River Derby, with jockey and time), includes: Beach Blast (Sammy Mendez, 19.628); Stone Lake (L.D. Martinez, 19.841); Beach Diva (Erik Esqueda, 19.975); Rock Candy Almighty (Jose Beltran, 19.981); Beach Runaway (German Rodriguez, 20.036); Jess Bringin It On (Cristian Esqueda, 20.075); Heza Fast Kisser (Cristian Aguirre-Erves, 20.183); Nocatchinga Corona (Erik Esqueda, 20.321); WH Imastreakingbeach (Jose Ruiz, 20.334); and Eagle Force 1 (Jose Beltran, 20.367).


Randy Smith will saddle four in the final while Tony Cunningham will saddle three.