Mr Michel has been tough to defeat his entire career, and he just added another stakes win to his card Saturday in the $110,173 QHRAI Stallion Service Auction Derby at Horseshoe Indianapolis in Shelbyville, Indiana.
The 23rd running of the stakes race sported the biggest purse in the history of the event. The race began at Hoosier Park in 2000, just three years after pari-mutuel Quarter Horse racing was added in Indiana. It was relocated to Horseshoe Indianapolis when the state moved all Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in 2013 to the Shelbyville racetrack.
As the field of nine broke from the gate, it was two inside horses, Keens Blood Legacy and Jose Ruiz and Ah One Special Wave, ridden by Cesar Esqueda, that got the early advantage. Midway through the 400-yard dash, Mr Michel and Erik Esqueda found another gear and began to close in. The timing was perfect for the wire to get the win by a half-length over Ah One Special Wave.
Keens Blood Legacy finished another neck back in third. The time of the 400-yard dash was 20.269 seconds over the sloppy track surface.
“I love this horse so much,” said Esqueda, who has guided Mr Michel to all but one of his career wins. “I’m so glad I have the opportunity to keep riding him.”
Mr Michel is owned by Alberto Valadez and trained by Claudio Barraza. He paid $6.20 for the win. The sorrel son of Kiss My Hocks was a $17,500 purchase from the QHRAI Speed Sale as a yearling. To date, he has accumulated more than $250,000 in earnings in six wins in 12 starts now on his card.
Mark Michel bred the gelding, who is out of his Indiana stakes winning mare Lovemelikethat.
“He always does well when he’s right in the middle of the pack,” said Barraza of Mr Michel. “I guess he likes the competition. I think he won his last stakes from post six too.”
As far as the next stop for Mr Michel, Barraza added, “I’m looking forward to the last couple of Derbies with Mr Michel at Horseshoe Indianapolis.”