By Barbara Newtown.
Trey Ellis has always had a race training business in Louisiana. In 2018, he started his two-year-old racing Quarter Horses as usual at Louisiana Downs in Shreveport. He then tried his luck in Oklahoma and, when those horses did well, he decided it was time to hit Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico, the Mecca of Quarter Horse racing. When the news got out that Trey was thinking of expanding west, some of his clients called him up and asked him to take their horses, too. Trey arrived at Ruidoso with high hopes for these four:
Eagles Fly Higher (One Famous Eagle – Lone Bet, by First Down Dash), a two-year-old sorrel Oklahoma colt bred and owned by Texans Vernon Harnan and Robert T. Moudy. Trey says, “He’s an easy colt. He’s professional and smart. Consistent, too: he’s won almost every time he’s run. He’ll be a nice sire prospect down the road.”
Fly Baby Fly (One Famous Eagle – Higher Fire, by Walk Thru Fire), a three-year-old sorrel Oklahoma filly bred by Julianna Hawn Holt and owned by the Fly Baby Fly Partnership. She won last year’s All American Futurity at Ruidoso.
Far Right (Apollitical Jess – Kansa Chick, by Chicks Beduino), a two-year-old grey Texas colt bred and owned by Bennie and Terri Jeter.
No Mires a La Luna (First Moonflash – Dont Looke Ethel, by Genuine Strawfly), a two-year-old bay New Mexico colt bred by Byron R. Woodard and owned by Woodard and David Valdez. “He’s a high-strung horse,” says Trey. “He and Far Right are similar in temperament… they’re just wide open. Not crazy, just a handful and ready to go!” (“No mires a la luna” translates as “Don’t look at the moon.”)
Trey had to fly back and forth between New Mexico and Louisiana all summer, since he still had horses training in Louisiana… and a family living there. His family came out for big races on the weekends, but often he would finish work in New Mexico, hop on a plane in the afternoon, and be at work in Louisiana early the next day. “It’s been a long summer, but I love it. Years of hard work have paid off. Our horses qualified for five Grade 1 races.”
Eagles Fly Higher came in third in the August 18th $8,000 All American Futurity Trial and earned $800, but he didn’t compete in the Futurity two weeks later because his time put him in eleventh place among all the trial horses. Nevertheless, in five starts, Eagles Fly Higher has taken 3 firsts. Keep your eye on him!
The 2018 Ruidoso summer meet came to a head on Labor Day weekend. Fly Baby Fly entered the $1,238,655 All American Derby Grade 1 on Sunday and zoomed to 2nd place, .052 seconds and a neck behind Hotstepper (One Famous Eagle – Pandorum, by Tres Seis), despite drifting slightly at the start. Her share of the purse came to a sweet $222,958.
On Monday, Far Right came in fourth in the $200,000 All American Juvenile Stakes and brought home $16,000, a nice consolation prize for being bumped at the start and forced to the outside.
The big one came later that afternoon: the $3,000,000 All American Futurity Grade 1, which boasts the largest purse for any 2-year-old race in North America. No Mires a La Luna came in third. He was bumped by his neighbors out of the gate but still was only .107 seconds behind the winner, Apocalyptical Jess (Apolitical Jess – Cassandra Crest, by Holland Ease). No Mires a La Luna took home $255,000, sweet indeed.
Jockey Rodrigo Vallejo brought home the bacon in all three big races.
Trainers, jockeys, fans, owners, and breeders know that a Quarter Horse race can be a wild scramble. Make a mistake out of the gate? There’s no time to grab the race back. 440-yard races like the All American Futurity, Derby, and Juvenile last for approximately 21 anaerobic seconds. There’s no time to maneuver for the trip-saving inside track around the turns: everything takes place on a straight line right in front of the grandstand. Although gate training is key to winning, your horse can be the straightest in the world out of the gate and still get bumped by his neighbors. Your hopes can evaporate in a tenth of a second… but your dreams can come true just as fast.
Trey loves the explosive speed of Quarter Horse racing. “The adrenaline rush! I’m on the pony every morning, taking the horses from barn to track and back. I even ride the racehorses sometimes, whenever I can. People think I’m crazy!”
Trey Ellis, only 28 years old, is now standing 9th out of 1,451 Quarter Horse trainers in North America in 2018. His total 2018 winnings as of Labor Day weekend are $1,024,120. Trainers customarily take home 10% of the purses, but the meat and potatoes of their business plans are the training and boarding of the equine athletes. Trey says, “I feel blessed to be able to work with the caliber of horses my clients have offered me.”