After turning in a prep at Indiana Grand in early September, Head Patron found his winning stride to lead the field of finalists into the $150,000 Governor’s Stakes Final set for Oct. 30.
The race is one of six stakes on the program, which is tagged as Indiana Champions Day. The day begins at noon with Thoroughbred stakes action followed by Quarter Horse stakes. The afternoon features stakes purses in excess of $1 million.
Head Patron (photo) was a strong favorite for a reason in the first of four trials Saturday for the Governor’s Stakes. The chestnut gelding was guided through the 350-yard dash by James Flores, who came in specifically to ride the Zoomin for Bux gelding for Jon and Brand Barley of Missouri. Trainer Randy Smith now conditions the horse for his starts in Indiana.
“I came in to ride this horse for the Barleys,” said Flores, who has a longstanding relationship with them through trainer Larry Sharp, who passed away a few years ago. “I consider it an honor to ride this horse since this horse came from the same ranch that Larry (Sharp) was with.”
Flores and Head Patron stopped the timer in 17.942 seconds to lead the way from 31 attempting to qualify for the final. It was the first time Flores has been aboard the gelding who raced at Remington and Fair Meadows before shipping to Indiana a month ago.
A Little Louie and Erik Esqueda finished second over MG Airlines and Giovani Vazquez-Gomez for third.
Head Patron now has two wins in six career starts. The freshman gelding now has more than $20,000 on his card.
The second fastest qualifier for the Governor’s Stakes trials was El Rubio Corona from the Ricardo Martinez stable. Ridden by Sergio Ramirez, the Coronado Cartel colt was making his first start at Indiana Grand after starting three times at Fair Meadows this summer, winning two. He is now three for four for Martinez, who also owns.
All Out and Berkley Packer finished second. Count Down and L.D. Martinez finished third in the trial times in 18.013.
Other trial winners for the Governor’s Stakes included Prize Kiss (L.D. Martinez) and BV Blaze of Glory (Oscar Macias).
The field for the final of the Governor’s Stakes, in order of time with jockey, includes: Head Patron (James Flores, 17.942); El Rubio Corona (Sergio Ramirez, 18.013); All Out (Berkley Packer, 18.016); Prize Kiss (L.D. Martinez, 18.117); BV Blaze of Glory (Oscar Macias, 18.171); Count Down (L.D. Martinez, 18.201); BP Ck Eagle (Cristian Esqueda, 18.242); A Little Louie (Erik Esqueda, 18.273); MC to Fancy Macho (Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, 18.283); and Stolin Home Brew (Rolando Pina, 18.289).
Tony Cunningham will saddle two for the final while Jessi Vazquez also saddle two.