Hot­step­per solid in $873,000 fu­tu­rity

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mary Ram­pellini

When the famed Quar­ter Horse trainer Sleepy Gil­breath did not show up at Rui­doso Downs with a sta­ble for the first time in 38 years in 2016, the track’s owner at the time, R.D. Hub­bard, took no­tice.

“Mr. Hub­bard said, ‘What’s it go­ing to take to get you back out here?’ ” Gil­breath re­called. “I said, ‘Send me a good horse, and I’ll be there.’ And he did. His name is Hot­step­per.”

Hot­step­per could go fa­vored in the rich­est race in Texas on Satur­day night when he breaks from post 9 in the Grade 1, $873,616 Texas Clas­sic Fu­tu­rity at Lone Star Park. The 400-yard race closes the track’s Quar­ter Horse meet, along with the Grade 1, $384,355 Texas Clas­sic Derby.

Gil­breath, who has trained such top-class horses as Re­frig­er­a­tor and Ochoa, is now 72. He said he by­passed the 2016 meet at Rui­doso be­cause he needed a lit­tle time off. But this year was dif­fer­ent. Gil­breath was back at the New Mex­ico track full force, send­ing out Hot­step­per to qual­ify for both the $1 mil­lion Rain­bow and the $3 mil­lion All Amer­i­can Fu­tu­rity.

“This is pretty spe­cial to me,” said Gil­breath, who trains Hot­step­per for Hub­bard, Johnny Cope, Henry South­way, and Rafter W Sta­bles.

Hot­step­per has won three of six starts, in­clud­ing a 1 1/2length romp in his trial for the Texas Clas­sic. He set the sec­ond-fastest time for the se­ries when he won in 19.70 sec­onds Oct. 21. Hot­step­per could go fa­vored for that ef­fort and his third-place fin­ish in the All Amer­i­can on Sept. 4. He closed fast to fin­ish 1 3/4 lengths be­hind dom­i­nant win­ner Fly Baby Fly.

“He ran a nice race,” Gil­breath said. “I think he’s a lit­tle more ma­ture men­tally and phys­i­cally since the All Amer­i­can.”

Cody Jensen has the mount on Hot­step­per.

Also in the 10-horse field are This Is an Ea­gle, win­ner of the Grade 2 Sam Hous­ton Fu­tu­rity in April, and Le­gacy Ea­gle, the fastest qual­i­fier with a trial time of 19.69.

◗ Dash Quick Perry will be go­ing for his fifth straight win when he starts in the Texas Clas­sic Derby, which also drew Grade 1 win­ners Duponte and High Plains Perry, win­ner of last year’s Texas Clas­sic Fu­tu­rity.

◗ Rick Lee of Lone Star will be joined by turf pub­li­cist Martha Claussen for a spe­cial hand­i­cap­ping sem­i­nar be­fore the races.

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