04/28/18..Remington Park..Oklahoma City – Jessies First Down, the two-time defending American Quarter Horse Association World Champion, made his initial start of 2018 in Saturday’s Leo Stakes at Remington Park. The Grade 1 race, worth $100,185, was the 7-year-old’s personal playground as he rolled to an easy victory by two lengths.

Owned and bred in Texas by Ted Abrams of Houston and trained by James Padgett, Jessies First Down was ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo. The gelding burst from the starting gate to grab the lead in the opening strides, then pulled away from his seven rivals with ease. Vallejo tapped him just once in the 400-yard event as he crossed the finish in :19.308 over the fast track.

“I thought he ran as good as he could run, :19.30 going 400 yards up here with no wind, pretty impressive,” Abrams commented on his star’s initial performance of the year. “He’s just a phenomenal racehorse. There’s not a lot you can say about him. He’s accomplished everything that any quarter horse, in the racing industry, could ever accomplish.”

Jessies First Down returns to the winner’s circle after failing to find victory in his last start of 2017 in the Championship at Sunland Park, N.M. on Dec. 31. Padgett and team let the champ have some time off before returning to Remington Park.

“The horse doesn’t like a really long layoff so we really just gave him a short break and got him fit for this,” Padgett said about the regimen for Jessies First Down. “When you have a horse like him, it’s just a blessing.”

Firing Tools was up for second, a head better than Koolnfamous who finished third. The remaining order for the Leo Stakes: Rock About It, Bye Byefreighttrain, Tommy The Train, Fast N Famous Jeans and FDP Rock Solid.

The heavy favorite in the wagering at 2-5 odds, Jessies First Down paid $2.80 to win, $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show. Firing Tools returned $5.40 to place and $4 to show. Koolnfamous paid $5.60 to show.

The Leo win is the 16th career victory for Jessies First Down from 35 total attempts. It is his first win at Remington Park in three starts overall. He finished second in the 2017 Remington Park Invitational Championship. That race is expected to be next up for the world champion on June 2.

Jessies First Down is by FDD Dynasty from the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess A Classy Lassy. The Leo check of $59,838 runs the lifetime earnings for Jessies First Down to $1,135,202.

The Leo Stakes is named in honor of one of Quarter Horse racing’s foundation sires. Leo, an AQHA Hall of Fame member, stood the bulk of his long stallion career in Perry, Okla., where a life-size statue commemorates him to this day. Leo was owned for the final decades of his life by Bud Warren.

Tracked by over 139,000 fans on Facebook and more than 9,600 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided over $190 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Remington Park, Oklahoma City’s only Racetrack & Casino, is home to the Grade 1, $100,000 Leo Stakes on Saturday, April 28. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, Remington Park is in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District. For more information, reservations and group bookings please call 405-424-1000, 866-456-9880 or visit remingtonpark.com.

Dustin Orona Photography