Leading Cartel Leads the Way to a Win in the Mountain Top Quarter Horse Futurity
Leading Cartel (#5) holds off Woodys Gold (#9) and Midnight Train Mo(#10) in the $334,059 Mountain Top Futurity(RG2) Saturday at Ruidoso Downs.

© Jake Rogers / Ruidoso Downs
Leading Cartel Leads the Way to a Win in the Mountain Top Quarter Horse Futurity

RUIDOSO DOWNS, NM—JUNE 13, 2020—Leading Cartel took home the $359,069 restricted Grade 2 Mountain Top Futurity for 2-year-old New Mexico-bred Quarter Horses on Saturday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

Leading Cartel, a gelding by multiple stakes sire Big Daddy Cartel out of Leading Diva by Special Leader, is owned by Reliance Ranches, LLC (Micah McKinney et al) and is trained by Mike Robbins.

"I give my assistant trainer Cody Noel all the credit with this horse—he’s been the one to work with him from the start—and it’s been a team effort with Esgar (Ramirez)," said trainer Robbins. "You’ll likely have him in the Zia Futurity trials—and he is paid into the All American, so we’ve got some decisions to make with him."

Jockey Esgar Ramirez rode Leading Cartel to a winning time of :17.95 over the 350 yards, finishing a neck in front of Woodys Gold. Midnight Train Mo was third, a head back in the blanket finish.

"This horse is special to me because I helped break him. You can ask him to give you more, and he responds," said Jockey Esgar Ramirez. "He slipped just a little coming out of the gates, and then I asked him, and he grabbed a lead. He’s done everything right---three races now."

MJ Farms bred and sold the gelding for $45,000 at the Ruidoso New Mexico Bred Yearling Sale last August. His dam, Grade 3 winner Leading Diva, is a sister to AQHA Racing Champion Leading Spirit, winner of the Ruidoso Futuirty(G1) and Rainbow Futurity(G1).

Leading Cartel broke his maiden at Remington Park in May, then posted the third fastest qualifying time in the May 29th trials. He has won 3-of-3 starts and today's $152,097 winners' purse boosted his earnings record to $161,911.

Woodys Gold, also bred by MJ Farms, picked up $65,184 for his second-place effort. The $10,000 Ruidoso New Mexico-Bred Sale bargain races for owner Cavenaugh Quarter Horses, LLC and trainer Clinton Crawford.

Jockey Francisco Calderson rode the gelded son of multiple stakes sire Woodbridge from the Gold Case (TB) mare All About Gold (TB). He has finished second in both is career starts.

Mason King's Midnight Train Mo earned $36,213 for his third-place effort. Juan Triana conditions the colt by multiple stakes sire Rock Solid Jess from the Coronas Blackdiamond mare Not Sable Shes Rose. Sarah Donaldson Rioux is the breeder and Alfredo Triana, Jr. was riding.

Shufz Up, Jessies Allstar, Heza Classy Now and Ezze Dash completed the Mountain Top Futurity field. Canelloni, Hatchi Zulu and Lunas Glitteringstar were all scratched.

Live racing at Ruidoso Downs continues on Sunday with the $100,000 Ruidoso Maiden Stakes for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old maidens, the $45,000 Rita Danley Distaff for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies and mares, and the $30,000 Ruidoso Sprint Handicap for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. Post time is 1:00 PM MDT. For more information on how to watch and wager, please visit

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