5/22/2017..RUIDOSO DOWNS, New Mexico  — The top-two finishers in last year’s Grade 1, $3-million All American Futurity — Imperial Eagle and The Marfa Lights — highlight the 12 trials to the Grade 1, $800,000 Ruidoso Derby on Sunday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

The 10-fastest qualifiers from the 400-yard trials gain eligibility to the Ruidoso Derby. The next 10 fastest qualifiers have preference to race in the $100,000 Mr Jess Perry. Both races are on June 10.

First post time on Sunday is 1:00 p.m. Opening weekend concludes on Monday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

In a captivating All American Futurity, the late running Imperial Eagle and The Marfa Lights providing a thrilling competition in the final 100 yards of the 440-yard All American Futurity. Charles Robinson’s Imperial Eagle, the 3-1 favorite, was able to prevail by a neck and gain the $1.5-million winner’s share.

Imperial Eagle was named champion two-year-old and champion two-year-old gelding.

Sired by One Famous Eagle, Imperial Eagle stepped up last summer at Ruidoso Downs with four wins from four starts at the mountain track. He started his winning streak with a non-qualifying victory in his Ruidoso Futurity trial and then won his Rainbow Futurity trial by one length, however did not qualify for the Rainbow Futurity.

The Tony Sedillo-trained Imperial Eagle, made amends in August when he won his 440-yard All American Futurity trial by a commanding one-and-three-quarter lengths and reached the All American Futurity.

Imperial Eagle assured his championship titles in December when he won the Grade 1, Southwest Juvenile Championship and the first running of the $200,000 Sunland Winter Juvenile Championship, his most recent race.

“He is doing well,” said trainer Sedillo. “He just went home and was put in a pen and played with the pigeons. We got him up in April and so far, so good. He’s grown and put on a little weight.

“Every time he gives 100 percent. As long as he stays sounds he should be good.”

Regular rider Esgar Ramirez will be aboard when Imperial Eagle starts from the sixth post position in the fourth trial.

Beth and Michael Harper’s The Marfa Lights gave Imperial Eagle a game challenge in the All American Futurity after winning his trial by two-and-three-quarter lengths. After the All American Futurity, The Marfa Lights was then second in his Texas Classic Futurity trial.

The Marfa Lights has the pedigree to support his talent. Also sired by One Famous Eagle, the colt is out of champion Your First Moon. She is the dam of champions Moonist and Moonin The Eagle, a full brother to The Marfa Lights.

Ramirez has been named to ride The Marfa Lights for the first time with the second post position in the 12th trial.

Nueve Racing’s Apolltical Chad, a gelding by Apollitical Jess, makes his first start since his fourth-place run in the All American Futurity on Labor Day. The Wes Giles-trained gelding showed his class a year ago when he raced to a head win over A Revenant in the Grade 1, $1-million Ruidoso Futurity. Champion A Revenant went on to win the Grade 1, $1-million Rainbow Futurity.

Apolltical Chad drew into the fifth trial and will have Adrian A. Ramos aboard. They start from the seventh post position.

J&SM Inc.’s homebred Wild Mares Milk comes into her trial following a win in the West Texas Derby on April 1 for trainer Fred Danley. The Desirio-sired filly qualified for last year’s Ruidoso Futurity and is back in peak form after being sidelined for eight months. She has two wins from three 2017 starts.

Wild Mares Milk starts from the third post position in the 10th trial with Ramirez aboard.

The sole $30,000 supplemental entrant to the trials, Always Ifs crossed the finish line in third place in the West Texas Derby and was then awarded second place after the race was appealed to the New Mexico Racing Commission.

A representative for owners R.D. Hubbard, Johnny Cope, Rafter W Stables and Butch Southway said a primary reason for supplementing Always Ifs was the existence of the additional earning opportunity in the Mr Jess Perry.

Trainer Mike Joiner named Cody Jensen to ride Always Ifs with the eighth post position in the sixth trial.

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