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                                      left: World Champion Dash For Speed is the only filly to have won the All American Derby, Rainbow Derby and Kansas Derby, in 1988.
below: 4-time Champion Heartswideopen is the only filly to have won both the Rainbow Derby and the Ruidoso Derby, in 2008.
                healthy foal on the ground. Coincidentally,
the first test tube baby – Carolyn Marie Jensen – was born one year later (1978) in Ontario, Canada. The procedure for humans was referred to as “alternative method of conception.”
Carolyn Marie Jensen needed only a live birth certificate, but the embryo transfer baby needed the blessing of AQHA. There were some who said both scenarios were “unnatural” and should not be pursued.
AQHA gave its blessing in 1980 with the stipulation that only one embryo transfer baby per year, per mare, could be registered.
There were a few folks who resented the one registered foal limitation but, by and large, everything rocked along peacefully for about a decade.
Then, the quiet was shattered when the cutting horse segment of the Quarter Horse industry raised its united voice, filling court rooms and insisting the one foal restriction violated directly the Texas free trade laws.
The restriction was gone by 2002. Some people quipped that mares could now have litters. A few did. Thankfully, just a few.
Okay. Mares had branched out in the reproductive arena, but what about the competitive question? Can fillies compete successfully with colts/geldings?
Think back to the things you’ve read about male and female human children. In terms of brain power, little boys usually trail little girls
in the early years. Then, the guys start catching up. It’s common for the same thing to happen in physical growth, which is why those eighth grade dances can be such a disaster. You know. That’s why the slow dances make the boy look as if he’s dancing with his mother, with his head tucked under her chin.
Then, seemingly overnight, those short boys begin sprouting. They grow taller, bigger, stronger. They can now snuggle those little ladies up to them and make them feel safe and protected.
That, basically, is what happens between fillies and colts/geldings. But, in this case, the fillies and their owners and trainers and riders have absolutely no interest in feeling safe and protected. They’re after the finish line, just like the boys. And, at first, it looks like the girls can measure up to their male rivals.
“There are a lot of fillies who can hang with the boys just fine as two year olds,” observed Jeff True, president and general manager of Ruidoso Downs. “After that, though, things start to get out of balance, with the colts pulling away.” He’s correct and, if you stop and really think about it, the filly begins losing value as a result of that split. Is her best chance at making
money only as a two year old? If that’s the case, doesn’t that decrease her potential value in the sale ring? After all, when you sign the ticket for her at Ruidoso or Heritage or Los Alamitos, you have no idea if she’ll be a producer and, in the back of your mind, you’re wondering about her chances of making significant money as a three year old. Every thought along those lines could bring down her value just a tick or two.
True and the Ruidoso Downs owners (Stan Sigman, Johnny Trotter and Narciso “Chicho” Flores) looked at the situation. What they saw was a hole. A gap. An empty space. Call it what you will, it was a pocket that cried out for some creative filling.
The Ruidoso powers-that-be looked at the blank spot. They took its measurements. Then they began designing.
The first result was the All American Oaks, a 440-yard race for fillies who were nominated to the All American Derby. The first running is 2020.
The announcement was made during Labor Day weekend, allowing plenty of opportunity for word to spread for quick feedback.
The response was positive; so positive that it was followed on Sept. 18 by the announcement for the Rainbow Oaks. Scheduled to debut in 2020, the Rainbow Oaks, written for three-year-old fillies, is a direct spin-off from the Rainbow Derby.
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