Sense of Urgency
GRANTS PASS — Carl Alleman has an urgency to seize the moment.
At 92 years old, Alleman understands there won't be many more opportunities to win the biggest race of the season at Grants Pass Downs.
The venerable horseman from Selma will have two chances to record his second Firecracker Futurity victory in three years in Monday's eighth race at GP Downs. Alleman's Roberts Running Boot captured the 2009 race for 2-year-old quarter horses in record time.
Alleman had two home-grown first-time starters qualify for the $33,200 futurity in the trials June 19 at GP Downs.
This is the 20th running of the rich 350-yard Fourth of July futurity at the Josephine County Fairgrounds. The futurity, which began in 1991, was known as the Far West until 2002 when the name was changed to the Firecracker. The 1992 race was rained out.
This year seven quarter horses are scheduled to break from the gate, with approximately $13,000 going to the winner.
Beda Jumpin Okie, the fourth fastest of eight horses to qualify for the finals, is being scratched. Beda Jumpin Okie overheated after winning his trials race June 19 and trainer Scott Raley has decided to pull the Gary Chumbley-owned colt. Chumbley, from Battleground, Wash., was the winning owner last year with Ez Gamer and was victorious in the 2006 sprint with Ez Speedy Leader.
Warnock, trained by Hector Magallanes of Boardman and owned by his brother Ruben, posted the fastest qualifying time (17.63 seconds) among the 21 quarter horses in the trials. Warnock — the runner-up at the Pot of Gold Futurity at Sun Downs in Kennewick, Wash., earlier this spring — was most impressive in his GP Downs debut.
"If (Warnock) doesn't make a mistake, he wins the race," says Raley. "He has the most talent by far."
Raley, who has trained three winners in the Fourth of July futurity, has the second-fastest qualifier Deniro — the only other horse in the field with a trials time under 18 seconds (17.93).
Deniro experienced some problems at the Pot of Gold trials but came back to win the consolation with a faster time than the futurity winner.
"He's probably the biggest, gangliest colt I've ever ran in my life," says the 45-year-old trainer from Brush Prairie, Wash. "He just keeps growing and growing. I can't believe he's running this fast. He's the biggest kid on the playground.
"I don't want to put a lot of expectations on this colt," adds Raley. "We just hope for a good, clean go."
The training duo of John and Patti Harris will saddle both of Alleman's entries — Bradens Bustlinbooty and Joshuas Miss Majesty.
"They're both pretty good size horses and exceptional fillies," says Patti Harris. "Braden has always been easy to work with but Joshua was more stubborn. Joshua isn't quite as consistent and focused. They're like kindergarten kids."
Bradens Bustlinbooty is a full brother of Roberts Running Boot. They're by the stallion Spanish Boot out of Alleman's mare Mongoose Chick.
The Harris' have a third horse in the field, Meareds Boy, owned by Javier Olmos.
Alleman has been one of the major supporters of horse racing in Southern Oregon. The former foundry owner in Redondo Beach, Calif., moved to Selma in 1973 and bought the 80-acre Allsprint Ranch. He's experienced much success throughout his career in horse racing.
Alleman's Beda Cheng held the GP Downs track record for 350 yards for many years and was the leading producing sire of quarter horses in Oregon over a 10-year span. Beda Cheng and his full sister Chieno held the Mr. and Miss California crowns at one time.
Alleman owned a national champion and had as many as 43 horses on his Selma ranch 10 years ago. Currently, he breeds just two mares.
"We have slowed way down," says Alleman. "But we've been so successful, I hate to just back out of it completely."
Alleman and his wife Raney have taken in about 25 foster kids over the past dozen years. Just as Roberts Running Boot was named after a foster child, Bradens Bustlinbooty and Joshuas Miss Majesty are also named for foster children. Braden is a 41/2-year-old Down syndrome son living with the Allemans.
"During the trials, those two horses were the best behaved of the whole bunch," says Alleman. "To have two horses, in their first out, making the futurity gives us a lot of personal pride."
Don Jackson, the godfather of horse racing in Southern Oregon, recognizes Alleman's contributions to the sport.
"He's been a good asset to horse racing all over and particularly in Grants Pass," says Jackson. "He's always been there with financial help and he's raised a lot of good horses. If it wasn't for guys like him, we wouldn't be here racing today."
Veteran jockey Gary Boag is making his first return to the Downs in over 20 years for a mount in Monday's Firecracker. Boag, 52, was a fixture here from 1976-85. The last time Boag rode at the local track was 1990.
Boag's two younger brothers, Danny and Mark, have also ridden at GPD in the past. Danny Boag won the 2003 Firecracker aboard Fly Margarita.
Gary Boag came out of retirement two months ago after a two-year layoff because of a knee injury. He'll ride Alleman's Joshuas Miss Majesty in the futurity.
"It brings back old memories," said Gary Boag about returning here. "I win a lot of races for John and Patti (Harris)."
Gary Boag, who was born and raised in Portland, has been riding at Los Alamitos in Southern California.
- The Firecracker Futurity Consolation will be Monday's fifth race. Seven horses will compete for a $3,600 purse in the 350-yard dash. Racing secretary Shorty Martin has installed Pot of Gold winner Uncle Sam Sweetfly as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
- Monday's featured thoroughbred race is the $3,600 Dane Boersma Memorial Stakes in honor of the Dutch Bros. founder.
Dutch Bros. Coffee has contributed $1,500 to the purse and the first 1,000 bettors on the race will receive a free beverage coupon good at any of the coffee stands.
Anyone attending Monday's race card can remain to watch the Beatles tribute band Meet Revolver.
The band is scheduled to begin a two-hour set at 7 p.m. followed by a 45-minute fireworks display at 10 p.m.
First-year GPD director of racing Wes Brown was shook up with the death of two horses this season during incidents on the track.
"Of course I'm interested in the bottom line," said Brown, "but safety is our primary focus. We need to take every measure to operate so the horses are safe."
A $2 voucher to place a bet is being given for each paid gate admission.
"It gives people more value for their $4 admission," said Brown. "It gets people in the mood and gives them a possibility of winning."
The track has an upgraded sound system that has been donated for the season by Southern Oregon Audio Visual of Grants Pass.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or email firstname.lastname@example.org