The gelding, owned and bred by Wootan Racing, needed that space, as he had to run down Prospect To The Top through the last 200 yards to finish first by a half length and bring home the lions’ share of the record-breaking $1.3 million race Sunday at Ruidoso Downs.
“I never doubt with this horse,” said trainer J. Heath Reed. “He’s been a dream horse to train and a dream horse to be a part of.”
Jockey Ramon Sanchez said the break from the starting gate was about as good as he could have hoped.
“I just had to keep him straight and let him run,” Sanchez said. “It was an excellent break, and after that, if nobody bothers him, he’ll do everything good for me.”
Not only did anyone not bother Llano Teller, it almost looked like they were actively avoiding him. Cold Cash 123 – the 2-1 favorite – got bunched up when all the horses drifted away from Llano Teller and ended up seventh.
“No one was that close,” Sanchez said. “In the middle, I felt someone to the side, but by that time the race was over.”
Ironically, Teller Cartel usually does best when he is challenged, according to Reed.
“He likes to have someone come up and hook him, and if you notice in his previous races, he starts drifting a little,” Reed said. “But that’s because he’s looking for someone to come and run at him. He likes to grit it out.”
Prospect to the Top – the horse that Jacky Martin was supposed to have ridden before his serious injury on Friday – had to settle for second place as a result of Llano Teller’s clean ride.
Terry Wootan, co-owner with Reed of Llano Teller, was also the breeder of the gelding.
“It’s unbelievable. I had tears in my eyes all the way down here,” Wootan said after the win. “You see him as a baby and you look over that rail and think he’ll win the All American. He didn’t win the All American Futurity, but he did win the All American Derby.”
The win-place-show pool of $148,559 was part of a record handle of more than $1 million for the day, up $184,000 from last year. Total handle for on-track betting was $554,000.