|Favored Hotstepper Gives Trainer Sleepy Gilbreath His Third Grade 1, Texas Classic Derby Victory
(Grand Prairie, Texas - Saturday, November 10, 2018) - This year's All American Derby winner, Hotstepper, may have been last out of the gate tonight in the $375,610 Texas Classic Derby (G1), but he kicked in into gear, making up ground all the way to win by a head over filly Curls Happy Wagon.
"He's got some good owners, and he's a great little horse," said trainer Sleepy Gilbreath. "He's a moody horse in the gate, and if you shake him up, he might fight you back."
Fortunately, the only fighting he did tonight was for the win! And as usual, Hotstepper wasn't great coming out of the gate, but he knew what his job was and he got it done.
Winning rider Cody Jensen said, "He's always been a little bit of an overachiever. He may not be the fastest, but he gives you a chance to win and make a little money. He always has a little bit of trouble in the gates, but when he stands out there good like tonight, you always have a chance.”
Hotstepper ran in the Texas Classic Futurity here last year, finishing second as the beaten favorite. "Usually when a horse has a rough two-year-old campaign, it takes its toll on him as a three-year-old, but "Sleepy" and his crew do such a good job with him out at their place. They kept him on the up, and he's been a lot more mature mentally this year," added Jensen.
Breaking first from the far outside was filly Curls Happy Wagon, trained by Stacy Charette-Hill. She lead early but couldn't keep the fast closing Hotstepper at bay, giving up by only a head at the wire.
Final time for the 440-yard derby was :21.615 over a fast track. Third place went to Hes Limitless, followed by This Is a Deal Too, Dash for Stone, Df Aj Green Leaves, Intense Fire, Three Bar Cartel, Serendipity Rocks and Anther Shot.
Wagers on the winner returned $5.20, $3.20 and $2.60. Curls Happy Wagon paid $6.80 and $4.80 for place, and Hes Limitless gave his backers $3.60 for the show.
This was the second grade 1 win for Hotstepper. His first was, of course, the All American Derby in September. He now has won seven of 15 career starts and upped his bankroll to $1,254,409 for his owners Johnny Cope, R. D. Hubbard, Rafter W Stables and Henry Southway.
This was third win in the Texas Classic Derby for trainer Sleepy Gilbreath. He won previously in 2011 with Cold Cash 123 and in 2012 with The Long Knife.