GRANTS PASS — The Philbrook family has a proud legacy in the rich Fourth of July quarter horse futurity at Grants Pass Downs.
And Chris Philbrook has maintained the tradition started by her deceased father, George Philbrook, who was the owner of 1995 winner Mr. Doubtfire.
The Philbrook-owned and Hector Magallanes-trained I Deliver posted the fastest qualifying time among 20 horses in the Firecracker trials on June 18.
It is one of five horses trained by Magallanes in Tuesday’s finals of the $28,400 Firecracker Futurity.
“Horses have been in my blood from almost the time I was born,” said Philbrook, who got her first pony when she was 5 years old.
Philbrook, 60, and her husband — legendary quarter horse trainer Baxter Andruss — stepped back from a more active role in 2016. But that didn’t diminish their desire to still race horses.
“When I was involved with the training, I was busy of taking care of details on the backside and there wasn’t time to get excited,” said Philbrook, of Vancouver, Washington. “Now it’s getting nervous time again and having sweaty palms.”
Philbrook was the winning owner and Andruss the trainer of 1998 futurity winner Phils Legacy and 2002 Firecracker champion Phils Dash Ta Fame. The Philbrook-owned Jesses Claim Ta Fame qualified for last year’s finals but finished fifth.
Philbrook bought I Deliver as a yearling for $8,000 from two babies suggested by Magallanes. The other, Corona B Gone, purchased by Magallanes’ father, is also in the field as the fourth-fastest (18.086 seconds) qualifier.
“(Magallanes) texted me the pictures and breeding,” said Philbrook. “I liked the breeding on I Deliver the best, so I picked him.”
Both I Deliver and Corona B Gone are from the same mare — Go Girl Gone, who had more than $100,000 in winnings during a short career. I Deliver was a normal birth from the mare while Corona B Gone is an embryo transplant. They are half brothers to 2013 Firecracker winner Eagle B Gone.
Both 2-year-olds began their careers this spring. Corona B Gone qualified for the Pot of Gold futurity at Sun Downs in Kennewick, Washington, and finished fifth in the finals. I Deliver failed to qualify for the finals but finished second in the Pot of Gold consolation.
Then I Deliver turned in an impressive performance in the Firecracker trials. He won a heat, which produced five horses for the finals, with a time of 17.663 seconds.
“Every time he runs, he shows more and more talent,” Magallanes said of I Deliver. “His big problem was he’d hesitate on the break. In the trials here, he broke like he was supposed to and came running. This colt has put it together.”
Magallanes says I Deliver showed a lot of talent from the beginning.
“He trains amazing,” said Magallanes. “He’s a big, strong, thick colt. He’s a massive horse.”
In addition, Magallanes has Corona B Gone, L Bar D Classic Trip, L Bar D Razle Dazle and This Wagons on Fire in the finals.
Magallanes qualified a sixth horse for the finals — Pendleton Promenade — but the horse passed away from an illness.
L Bar D Classic Trip won its heat and posted the third-fastest qualifying time (17.931) in the trials. He defeated I Deliver by a nose to win the Pot of Gold consolation.
“He’s definitely showed a lot of progress,” said Magallanes. “He seems to want to hook up with horses.”
L Bar D Razle Dazle could be a wild card. The horse broke loose in the post parade and galloped three-quarters of the way around the track before getting caught. But he had enough stamina to run third in the fastest heat and was the fifth-best overall (18.137).
Then there is Warhock, the second-fastest qualifier (17.699). Warhock is owned and trained by former jockey Freddy Ibarra. He is half brother to last year’s Firecracker winner Henry Craig, who has won seven out of eight lifetime starts.
Warhock and I Deliver dueled in their Firecracker heat on June 18.
“Those two horses went to the front right away,” said Magallanes. “In the last 50 yards, I Deliver pulled away.”
Magallanes had five horses in the finals last year as well.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Magallanes. “The odds are in my favor. But there’s only going to be one winner. Whoever has a clean break and wants to get down and run will get across the finish line first.”
— Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org