JESS MY HOCKS WINS LEO STAKES SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, UPSETTING REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION DANJER
Jess My Hocks showed last year’s upset in the Grade 1 Leo Stakes was no fluke Saturday night as the big bull of a quarter horse did it again. He won the $117,280 race by upsetting the reigning American Quarter Horse Association World Champion, Danjer, in the process.
The winner broke fifth from the 8-post position in the starting gate, mostly because it takes a second or two for a 1,300-pounds-plus horse to get all that girth going. By the time Jess My Hocks gained his full, lengthy strides, it was just a matter of time before he caught them all at 400 yards.
The much anticipated matchup between him and Danjer never materialized this year as the World Champion thrashed in the gate right before the start and leaned back. When he did lean back, his flipping halter tied to the front of the gate, kept it from opening exactly with the rest of the gates for the others in the field. After an inquiry by the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission stewards, it was determined Danjer caused his own issue and was indeed a starter in the Leo.
Last year, the two horses battled neck and neck to the wire in the Leo Stakes before Jess My Hocks, known as Bull in the barn, prevailed by a nose over Danjer. This year, the World Champion could do no better than eighth after trailing the field of 11 horses early.
Jess My Hocks won the Leo last year at 7-2 odds, but that apparently didn’t impress the players as he was sent off at 10-1 odds. He paid a whopping $23.40 to win, $6.80 to place and $4.40 to show. The final margin of victory this year was by a half-length over Instygator, the even-money favorite in the race. Apollitical Redflash (59-1) got up for third, a full length back of Instygator. Jess My Hocks’ half-brother Charlies Fury made it a fantastic night for the connections as he collected a fourth-place check.
Tom and Kathy McNally of Guthrie, Okla., own both Jess My Hocks and Charlies Fury. The half-brothers, out of the same broodmare Jess Charlena, received $71,676 for first and $7,168 for fourth. Michelle Hurdle trains both for the McNallys and couldn’t have been more excited. She ran onto the track as her horses returned after the race and gave jockey Mario Delgado a slapping high five for the win.
“I knew Charlie was going to leave good and then I caught “Bull” out of the corner of my eye coming,” she said. “There was really nothing for him early in the meet so I ran him in the SLM Big Daddy 550, which I didn’t really think was his lick. As it was, it turned out really well.”
It had been two years since Delgado rode Jess My Hocks. Agustin Silva, the regular rider for both multiple stakes winners, had the unenviable task of choosing between Jess My Hocks and Charlies Fury. The half-brothers had never faced each other in an official race. Silva stayed with Charlie for this one.
“Bull” is an awesome horse,” said Delgado. “I had a lot of confidence in him since we won together at the Challenge Derby Championships (at the Downs at Albuquerque) two years ago (on Oct. 24, 2020). I knew he would finish and he got it done.”
Kathy McNally said it was “a God thing” to see Bull and Charlie perform together the way they did and beat the World Champion.
The remaining order of finish in the Leo Stakes was Relentlessly (5th), BP Primetime (6th), Famous Chief (7th), Danjer (8th), Hooked On A Win (9th), Giant Courage (10th), Jettz (11th).
Jess My Hocks is a 5-year-old gelding by Kiss My Hocks, out of the Take Off Jess mare Jess Charlena. Charlies Fury is 6-years-old and also a gelding from the same dam (mother). His sire (father) is Furyofthewind. They were both bred in Oklahoma by their owners.
Jess My Hocks improved his career record to 19 starts, 10 wins and four thirds for a lifetime bankroll of $410,552. Running time for the winner was :19.420 on the fast track for a speed index of 99. He won this race last year in :19.824. It’s scary that he is getting better with each race.
The Leo this year proved to be one of the best races for older horses in history here with a World Champion, millionaires and some of the top runners in the country converging on Remington Park. It could get even better on May 28 when the cornerstone race for the older set, the Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship is run. Let the goose bumps begin.
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.
Remington Park racing continues Sunday, May 1 with a 10-race Sunday card that begins at 4 p.m.
Tracked by more than 168,000 fans on Facebook and 10,600 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $288 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park will feature the $1,000,000 Heritage Place Futurity and the $250,000 Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship on May 28. Simulcast horse is racing featured daily at Remington Park where the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.