THP Board Member Jim Helzer Set For Big All American Weekend

Jim Helzer, a member of the Texas Horsemen's Partnership (THP) Management Committee and vice president of the Texas HBPA, is set for what could be a huge Labor Day as horses that he owns in partnership are among the favorites for the prestigious All American Futurity (Gr. I) and All American Derby (Gr. I) at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. Almost Flyin is pegged as the morning line second choice in the All American Futurity, and Feature Mr Jess has been installed as the 7-to-5 morning line favorite in the All American Derby.

Helzer and his wife Marilyn own Almost Flyin in partnership with Jimmy Coffman and Jack Evans, and the 2-year-old son of Strawfly Special and the First Down Dash mare Almost Illegal has drawn the number three post position for the $1,954,649 All American Futurity (Gr. I). He is trained by Dwayne "Sleepy" Gilbreath, who also trained Helzer's legendary Refrigerator to a victory in the same race in 1990. Gilbreath, who also saddled On A High to win the All American Futurity in 1983, has two other starters in the race - Phenomenal Fantasy and Spittin And Splittin. Those two are coupled as an entry in the race and are the morning line 5-to-2 favorites.

Almost Flyin is undefeated in three starts, with the most recent being a neck triumph in the first of 17 All American Futurity trials. He posted the 10th fastest qualifying time (:21.728) for the 440 yards while earning a 91 speed index.

Prior to his trial victory, Almost Flyin won his debut in a maiden race and triumphed in a trial for the Rainbow Futurity (Gr. I), though he did not qualify for that race. In his maiden win, Almost Flyin defeated fellow All American Futurity qualifier Ausual Suspect.

Helzer's chances for victory may be even better with Feature Mr Jess in the $200,615 All American Derby (Gr. I). He and his wife Marilyn own the 3-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry and the Truckle Feature mare Brenda Feature in partnership with J. E. Jumonville Jr. and his wife Bunny's Jumonville Farms.

Feature Mr Jess enters the All American Derby with an unblemished three-for-three record in 2001 that includes a triumph in the Rainbow Derby (Gr. I). He won the last trial for the All American Derby and enters the race as the leading earner in the field with a bankroll of $504,620. He also holds the distinction of being the only colt in the last 15 years that has one a Grade I futurity and derby at Ruidoso Downs since he won the Ruidoso Futurity (Gr. I) in 2000. He has won seven of his 13 lifetime starts.

Feature Mr Jess was the eighth-fastest qualifier for the All American Derby. He will break from post position number three. He is trained by Dwayne "Sleepy" Gilbreath and will be ridden by the sport's all-time leading jockey, Jacky Martin.

At the conclusion of his 2001 season, Feature Mr Jess will be retired to begin a stud career at Helzer's JEH Stallion Station in Pilot Point, Texas.

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