Good Time Stoli was celebrated Thursday as the top qualifier in the Blue River Derby Trials at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville. He bested 30 other three-year-olds over four trials to advance to the upcoming $100,000 final slated for July 23.
Good Time Stoli (photo) and Giovani Vazquez Gomez got out of the gate quickly and maintained good positioning throughout the 400-yard dash. In the end, he was able to win by one and one-half lengths to break his maiden and earn the victory in a trial-topping time of 20.125 seconds.
Chicks Zuma and Jose Ruiz closed for second over ER Stone Chargin and James Flores for third.
Good Time Stoli was making his seventh career start for Dianne Bennett’s Bennett Racing Stable of Franklin, Ind. Bennett also bred the sorrel son of Duponte. Jessi Vazquez is the trainer and is fresh off a stakes win in the Horseshoe Indianapolis QHRAI Derby earlier in the week with Rock Candy Blue.
“We’ve had a lot of setbacks due to the equipment,” said Vazquez. “He’s just a big horse and it’s hard to find stuff that fits. His last race, his blinkers fell off, but he ended up finishing third. Giovani just knows what to do. He’s familiar with him and all the horses in our barn.”
The second quickest trial of the night was turned in during the first event as Leaving With Fire and German Rodriguez rallied to win in 20.186. Trained by Indiana’s all-time leading Quarter Horse trainer Randy Smith, The Coronas Leaving You gelding took a few steps to get going before getting the lead and winning by three-quarters of a length over High Rolling Seize and Shanley Jackson. Stablemate Sweet Beach and Juan Marquez finished third.
When asked about the difference in Leaving With Fire from last year, Rodriguez said, “He can go 400 yards now, and he used to only be able to go 350. He broke out of the gate a half step late and then caught up and dominated today.”
Leaving With Fire is owned by Smith’s wife, Debbie, and the Indiana bred was raised by Randy Haffner. It was the second career win in eight starts for Leaving With Fire, who will be one of three in the Blue River Derby final.
“This horse (Leaving With Fire) is a little bit hit or miss,” said Smith. “He has a few issues that we have worked on and hopefully, he’s starting to come around.”
Other trial winner on the night was the return to the winner’s circle by Mr Michel, who won four of seven starts last year at two, including the Miss Roxie Little Futurity. Reunited with jockey Erik Esqueda, the flashy sorrel gelding came rolling home in the final strides to nip Jesses Beach and Rolando Pina at the wire in 20.265. FE Stone Crusher and Juan Marquez finished third.
It was the first win of the year for Mr Michel, who has one previous start in May at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The Claudio Barraza trained son of Kiss My Hocks was a $17,500 purchase from the QHRAI Speed Sale as a yearling from breeder Mark Michel. To date, he has in excess of $150,000 in earnings.
“I wasn’t super confident coming in because every horse in the race has a good shot and can pull out the win,” said Esqueda on Mr Michel. “I got him on the right lead to get him focused. He was able to close in at the finish.”
The final trial winner was guided to victory by James Flores, who flew in for the trials. Flores teamed up with Chico Beach for the win following a delay at the start and an eventual scratch by heavily-favored Carters Law.
Chico Beach followed Lexus Beach and German Rodriguez early on before finding another gear late and getting the edge by a head for the win in 20.554 to become the 10th and final qualifier for the Blue River Derby final. Stormi Spirits and Rolando Pina finished third.
Trained by Julio Almanza, Chico Beach earned his second win of 2022 for owner Leonardo Daniel Almanza. The homebred son of Escondido Beach is now two for six after being lightly raced as a freshman.
“This horse (Chico Beach) really knows how to finish,” said Flores. “Being moved out of the gate hurt him. I think he wasn’t focused as much as he was before the scratch. He broke out of the gate flat footed, but then he picked back up enough which is where it helped him being a good finisher comes in.”
The finalists for the Blue River Derby final, in order of time with jockey includes: Good Time Stoli (Giovani Vazquez-Gomez, 20.125), Leaving With Fire (German Rodriguez, 20.186), Mr Michel (Erik Esqueda, 20.265), High Rolling Seize (Shanley Jackson, 20.294), Jesses Beach (Rolando Pina, 20.302), Sweet Beach (Juan Marquez, 20.350), Chicks Zuma (Eddie Aceves, 20.398), FE Stone Crusher (Juan Marquez, 20.437), ER Stone Chargin (James Flores, 20.536), and Chico Beach (James Flores, 20.554).
Smith saddles three for the final (Leaving With Fire, Sweet Beach and FE Stone Crusher) while Julio Almanza saddles two (ER Stone Chargin and Chico Beach).
The Blue River Derby trials are a precursor to the special All-Quarter Horse racing program July 2 at Horseshoe Indianapolis. A 16-race program, all trials, gets underway at 10 a.m. featuring the Gordon Mobley Futurity, the Jaguar Rocket Futurity, and the Heartland Futurity. All finalists will advance to the third All-Quarter Horse racing day set for July 23 featuring stakes purses in excess of $500,000.