RUIDOSO –Trainer Eric Valenzuela, celebrating his 40th birthday on Sunday afternoon, simply couldn’t lose.
Valenzuela saddled both Lets Leave and Wired 440, separated by only a headbob at the finish line and 1-2 finishers in the $1 million Ruidoso Quarter Horse Futurity, the opening leg of the quarter horse Triple Crown.
Lets Leave, ridden by Sergio Becerra, Jr. for owners Barron Racing LLC and Empire Racing, broke smartly from his outside post and dueled the length of the stretch, getting his nose down on the wire just a shade in front of stablemate Wired 440 and jockey Esgar Ramirez.
Wired 440 dueled from the gate and put a head in front in deep stretch, but was tagged right on the wire. The winner reached the finish line in a final time of 17.56 seconds.
Lets Leave was the second-fastest qualifier for the Futurity when trials were held here on May 26 & 27. The 2-year-old son of Favorite Cartel cruised home to win that day by more than five lengths.
The victory for Lets Leave makes him the only horse eligible to win quarter horse racing’s Triple Crown, which has only been accomplished once, by Special Effort in 1981.
The second leg of the quarter horse Triple Crown will take shape June 30 and July 1, when trials will be held for the Rainbow Futurity. Like the Ruidoso Futurity, the 10 fastest qualifiers from those two days of trials will be entered back for the July 16 Rainbow Futurity, also worth a purse of $1 million.
The Triple Crown series will culminate Monday, Sept. 4 with the $3 million All-American Futurity, the richest quarter horse race in the nation.
Lets Leave has now won three times from four career starts, his only blemish coming in the West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park on April 1, where he ran second. The $420,000 winners share of the Ruidoso Futurity purse increases his lifetime earnings to more than $483,000.
Bred by Ed Allred, a 2006 inductee in the American Quarter Horse Association’s Hall of Fame, Lets Leave was a Los Alamitos Equine Sale purchase last year for $122,000.
This is the biggest career win for Valenzuela, who’s been training racehorses for nearly a decade. Prior to the win in the Ruidoso Futurity, Valenzuela’s biggest stakes win came at SunRay Park last year with Major Game in the New Mexico Breeders Futurity.
For Becerra, a multiple graded stakes winning jockey, this is his second win in the Ruidoso QH Futurity. Becerra rode Cyber Monday to victory in this event in 2020.
Sent off as the post time favorite at odds of 6-to-5, Lets Leave returned $4.40 to his winning backers. The $2 exacta combining the top two finishers paid $41. Irish Seis finished third with Luis Martinez aboard, with Trump This Record and jockey Francisco Calderon finishing fourth.
In Saturday’s Grade 1, $895,000 Ruidoso Quarter Horse Derby, Cyber Attack sprang from the gate and was never seriously challenged, easily capturing the win and earning his second win from as many starts in his sophomore campaign.
The 3-year-old, California-bred son of Favorite Cartel, popped the gate under jockey Eduardo Nicasio and won by 1¼ lengths, stopping the clock in an impressive time of 19.54 seconds over 400 yards on a fast track as the overwhelming 3-to-5 post time favorite.
Cyber Attack, a six-time winner from nine career starts is owned by Rosenthal Ranch LLC and trained by Christopher O'Dell. Saturday’s victory added more than $376,000 to his bankroll, which now stands at more than $1.5 million.
In addition to winning the Ruidoso Derby, Cyber Attack also owns a win in one of the marquee races for 2-year-olds in the country when he scored an impressive win in the Los Alamitos 2 Million Futurity at Los Alamitos in Cypress, Calif. He also earned second place finishes in last year’s Rainbow Futurity and the Golden State Million Futurity at Los Alamitos.
Cyber Attack was purchased as a year at the 2021 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale for $400,000.
Cyber Attack returned $3.40 to his winning backers. The $2 exacta with second-place finisher Rock a Jess V and jockey Francisco Calderon paid back $10. Beneficial ran third, followed by Ezee Monee to round out the top four finishers.