Jessluvchicks will break from the outside post 10, with regular rider Harold Collins up for trainer Ron Raper and owner Jeannette Hoover. A six-year-old gelding by Chicks Beduino, Jessluvchicks has five wins in his last six starts, including the John Deere Lexington Challenge Sprint Stakes at The Red Mile July 18 and the Don Boyd Memorial Handicap, also part of the John Deere Series, at Mt. Pleasant Meadows in Michigan on July 6.
“It’s not anything special I’ve done with him,” he said. “I think the son of a gun is just running his race. He’s a good old solid horse, and he’s a happy horse. He loves what he’s doing. I ponied him this morning, and he told me he was ready. If he breaks good tomorrow, those other horses are going to have to run to beat him.”
Raper, who is stabled in Michigan, is the sixth-leading trainer by wins in North America. He’s sending out winners at a healthy 30 percent, with 63 winners from 210 starters.
Two horses are second choice at 5-1, and both have local ties. Oughttobecashedout, with Joddie Fortner up for owner/trainer Neil Schnecker, drew post four, and Ridin a Easy Streak, with J.D. Mitchener riding for owner/trainer Dan Frazier, will break from the six hole.
Oughttobecashedout, a five-year-old mare by Ought to be First, has two seconds and three thirds in five starts this year. She was beaten just a neck in her last two outs, both at River Downs. Schnecker trains both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds at his farm near Lebanon, Oh.
Schnecker brought two-year-old A Dash of Salt to Turfway Tuesday morning to work out of the gate with three-year-old Streakin’ Traffic. Those two provided needed information on how Quarter Horses will handle the break on a new surface. Rain that day confirmed the value of adding water to the surface for the race.
“They’re calling for rain Friday as well, which helps tighten up the track,” said Schnecker. “The work-out was good. Quarter Horses break hard, but I’ve seen Thoroughbreds break hard too.”
Schnecker bought his mare early in her yearling season from Vessels Stallion Station, one of the leading racing Quarter Horse breeders in the country. “She’s a small filly, about 15 hands, but really stout,” he said. “She won the Buckeye Futurity at Beulah Park as a two year old, an allowance race at The Red Mile at three, and was second in the Queen City Dash at River two starts back.”
A four-year-old gelding by Streakin La Jolla, Ridin a Easy Streak has missed the board just once in six starts this season, posting two wins. Owner/trainer Frazier, of Paris, Ky., bought Ridin a Easy Streak at an Oklahoma sale in January.
“I think this horse is just now starting to come into his own,” Frazier said. “Every race since we’ve had him, he’s been the first one out of the gate, except for the Los Alamitos [at Red Mile].” That was the only race in six starts this year where Ridin a Easy Streak missed hitting the board.
The John Deere Turfway Park Sprint Stakes, for three year olds and upwards, covers 330 yards. The purse carries black-type status in American Quarter Horse racing and includes a $5,000 John Deere premium for Bank of America Challenge-enrolled horses.
Quarter Horses last raced at the Florence, Ky., oval in 1972 when the track was known as Latonia. American Quarter Horses currently have two pari-mutuel dates in Kentucky, running at The Red Mile in Lexington. At this year’s meet, July 18 and 19, horses from 25 states competed.
Friday also opens the two-day Kickoff Cookoff, Turfway’s second annual barbecue festival featuring competitive ribs teams from across the country. Former NFL players will serve as judges and fans can enjoy music from rock to blues. Admission and parking are free both for the barbecue fest and for racing. Further details about the festival are available at http://www.turfway.com.