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Jockey Ruben Lozano, atop Harem Bar Cartel, celebrates with Owner Jorge Camona, after winning the 2018 Firecracker Futurity at Grants Pass Downs on Wednesday.[PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR]

GRANTS PASS DOWNS: Fastest qualifier Harem B Cartel rallies to win Firecracker Futurity

GRANTS PASS — Harem B Cartel had a lot of ground to make in a short amount of time in the $33,400 Firecracker Futurity.

And under the guidance of jockey Ruben Lozano, Harem B Cartel rallied on the outside to edge stablemate Reginas Royal Choice by 3/4-length in the 27th running of rich Fourth of July futurity at Grants Pass Downs.

Harem B Cartel, a 3-2 favorite, posted a time of 17.51 seconds — tied for the third fastest in futurity history — in the 350-yard dash for 2-year-old quarter horses.

He returned $6 to win on a $2 bet.

“He didn’t break a damn,” said Lozano about the winning colt. “Everyone out broke us. When I asked him he started going.”

Lozano had to go to the whip early but the long-striding brown horse responded by making up several lengths on Reginas Royal Choice, who had daylight between herself and field midway through the sprint.

One mistake by Reginas Royal Choice cost her a chance at victory.

“We had a perfect, nice start,” said 25-year-old jockey Jonathan Roman, who flew up from Southern California the night before with Lozano at the request by trainer Danny Montes. “About halfway, the fillie shied away by the grandstand. By then it was too late.”

Reginas Royal Choice started in the No. 4 post but when approaching the big Independence Day crowd she lugged down to near the rail. This gave Harem B Cartel the opportunity as he caught and passed the fillie with fewer than 100 yards remaining in the dash.

“When I asked him, the more he wanted to run,” explained the victorious 28-year-old veteran jockey from Compton, Calif. “It took me a while to catch her. He finished super strong.”

For trainer Montes, it was “pretty surprising” to have the top two finishers.

Montes came to GP Downs from Los Alamitos race track in Southern California with two eligible horses for the futurity. One objective was to get the unraced Harem B Cartel two starts in the Northwest to qualify for the $100,000-plus Wild West futurity at Los Alamitos in October.

Obviously, Montes got much more.

“It was scary at first,” said Montes about the poor start by fastest qualifier Harem B Cartel. “He started scrambling. I didn’t expect that from him.

“The little gray fillie (Reginas Royal Choice) was the target for him to run down,” continued Montes. “His bigger strides gave him the power he needed and just caught her at the end.”

Harem B Cartel owner Jorge Carmona of Los Angeles received the $13,360 winner’s share of the purse.

Carmona traded breeder Erik Flores for the horse. At the suggestion of Montes, Carmona had stallion Five Bar Cartel, who has more than $1 million in career earnings, bred to Flores’ mare Harem Carver.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” said Camona about his relationship with Flores, who owns runner-up Reginas Royal Choice. “We trade for breedings all the time.”

Trainer Hector Magallanes was denied his third consecutive Firecracker victory.

The Magallanes-trained Arizona Favorite, the second-fastest qualifier, wasn’t himself the day of the race.

“This morning he wasn’t feeling great,” said Magallanes. “He hopped a little at the gate and was a little flat. He wasn’t striding like he normally does. He sounded pretty raspy after the race.”

“We’re not making excuses, Danny just had the faster horses today,” added Magallanes.

Magallanes, who had three horses in the field, did take third with 13-1 underdog L Bar D Top Prospect.

Earlier on the card, Magallanes’ Kountry Fun won the $4,000 Firecracker Futurity consolation with Jose Guerrero aboard.

The Firecracker was the most heavily bet race of the season with $14,608. Also, the on-track wagering of $55,539 was the largest this year. The total handle of $82,769 was second only to the $83,696 wagered on Father’s Day.

Wednesday’s Results

FIRST RACE

TB Mdn, 5 F. 1, Gibbs Bullion (L. Zacherle), 3.20, 3.00, 2.20; 2, Real Changes (R. Burney), 5.80, 2.60; 3, Remembering Lynn (J. Figueroa), 2.40. Q — 1-3 $18.20; EX — 3-1 $8.20; TRI — 3-1-5 $32.80. Time — 1:01.53.

SECOND RACE

TB Clm, 5½ F. 1, VF Beestrong (V. Jensen), 5.60, 2.80; 2, Midnight Maggie (K. Schaub), 2.80; 3, Terrello (J. Lopez), no price. Q — 1-5 $11.00; EX — 5-1 $10.90; TRI — 5-1-3 $17.60. Time — 1:06.56.

THIRD RACE

QH Fut Cons, 350 yd. 1, Kountry Fun (J. Guerrero), 3.60, 2.20, 2.10; 2, Ima Five Bar Cartel (E. Gutierrez-Sosa), 3.00, 2.10; 3, Gc Harrys Game (N. Parker), 2.10. Q — 4-5 $6.40; EX — 4-5 $4.90; TRI — 4-5-2 $11.70; DD — 5-4 $9.20. Time — 17.87.

FOURTH RACE

TB Clm, 5 F. 1, It Doesn’t Add Up (K. Schaub), 4.80, 2.60, 2.20; 2, Del Rio Harbor (J. Figueroa), 2.60, 2.40; 3, Sir Gawain (R. Burney), 3.00. Q — 4-6 $5.80; EX — 6-4 $6.20; TRI — 6-4-1 $19.20. Time — :58.99.

FIFTH RACE

QH Mdn, 350 yd. 1, Babybluedash (J. Lopez), 4.80, 3.00, 2.80; 2, Jes Tex (E. Gutierrez-Sosa), 2.60, 2.60; 3, El Moro Prieto (J. Guerrero), 3.60. Q — 3-5 $4.60; EX — 3-5 $4.40; TRI — 3-5-1 $63.10; Pick 3 — 4-6-3 $14.90. Time — 17.68.

SIXTH RACE

TB Clm, 5½ F. 1, King’s to You (L. Zacherle), 5.20, 3.00, 2.60; 2, Focus Now (K. Schaub), 3.60, 2.40; 3, Fishintonablue (R. Burney), 4.00. Q — 1-3 $15.60’; EX — 1-3 $15.50; TRI — 1-3-4 $80.00. Time — 1:06.33.

SEVENTH RACE

QH Fut, 350 yd. 1, Harem Bar Cartel (R. Lozano), 6.00, 3.60, 3.00; 2, Reginas Royal Choice (J. Roman), 4.60, 4.00; 3, L Bar D Top Prospect (J. Guerrero), 4.00. Q — 4-6 $17.20; EX — 6-4 $12.00; TRI — 6-4-5 $302.40. Time — 17.51.

EIGHTH RACE

TB Clm, 5 F. 1, Northern Smoke (R. Burney), 6.80, 2.10; 2, Nice Guys Finish (J. Guerrero), 2.10; 3, Skeesix (E. Gutierrez-Sosa) no price. Q — 3-5 $5.80; EX — 5-3 $6.20; TRI — 5-3-1 $5.90; DD — 6-4 $5.20; DD — 6-5 $27.60; Pick 3 (1/5-6-5) $73.00. Time — :58.86.

Attendance — 3,575 (est); Handle — $82,796 (On track: $55,539; Off track: $27, 230)

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or fsilow@rosebudmedia.com.

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