A Derby Tease? Aces N Kings, Part II

As some of you may remember, in June I wrote about Aces N Kings, an interesting story about a 2-year-old who was sired by a teaser, Jet Phone. The blog received a positive response, mostly because it was kind of an oddball story and there was a connection to superstar Rachel Alexandra. Here is a link to the story again to help refresh your memory.

The story of Aces N Kings would have been a good one even if it ended in June. At the time he was 3-for-3, all of them in main track sprints at Lone Star. I put him in my watch mail, but thought nothing else of the horse, other than he was a cool, little gelding with a neat story behind him. That's where the story was likely going to end for me until August, when I noticed that Aces N Kings had upped his record to 5-for-5, his last victory in the one-mile Sunny's Halo Stakes on the Louisiana Downs turf. I was told to look for him to stretch out again for his next start, the 1 1/16-mile Sunday Silence Stakes over the same course.

Though I missed the race when it was run live on Sept. 25, I went back and watched it a couple of days later. When I did, I was extremely impressed. Though he was beaten a head as the 3-10 favorite, it was a remarkable performance by Aces N Kings. Take a look for yourself. He is the 5 horse, the one that gets an early lead, then finds trouble on the turn and looks like he has no chance in mid-stretch before unleashing a furious late run. Once again, I was intrigued and decided to call "Scooter" Dodwell, the man who raised and trains the gelding.

Last month, Dodwell told me to look for Aces N Kings to return to dirt for his next start--the $1 million Delta Jackpot on Nov. 20. Like he did in our initial conversation in June, Dodwell reiterated that Aces N Kings is still the fastest horse he has ever trained, including Rachel Alexandra, but even he was surprised that he has shown the ability to stretch out beyond one turn. He said they would have run him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf if he had been nominated, but since he wasn't they owed it to themselves to give him a chance in the Delta Jackpot.

Well, here we are. The grade III Delta Jackpot is on Saturday and look for Aces N Kings not only show up in the entries, but to be one of the favorites for the 1 1/16-mile race run over two turns. Dodwell, who still trains the horse for his parents but uses Henry B. Johnson Jr. to saddle him on race day, has secured a new rider you may have heard of for the Jackpot--Calvin Borel. Hmmm...this is starting to get very interesting.

When I talked to him on Tuesday, Dodwell was optimistic that Aces N Kings would run well on Saturday.

"I worked him Monday and he looked as good as I've ever seen him," he said. "I feel good about his chances. He should like the track and have no problems with the bullring there. Unless he gets outclassed, I think he will be right in the mix.

"He's about 16 hands right now; not real big, but he has long strides. He's the type of horse that can go from average speed to full speed in one jump. He's real push button. Even if he doesn't win, Calvin has so much experience that he will be able to tell us what we have with him and what caliber horse he is."

Dodwell still feels that Aces N Kings is a little better on turf and can be a stakes-caliber turf sprinter. But he admits a win in the Delta Jackpot would put turf sprinting on hold, at least for a while. Though he was reluctant to dream aloud, I'll do it for him. What if Aces N Kings should happen to win the Jackpot? All of a sudden we have gone from a neat, little oddball story about a horse that was sired by a teaser to a horse that would be 6-for-7 and with enough graded earnings to qualify for the...yes, I'm going to say it...the Kentucky Derby.

Okay, I know I'm getting a little crazy here. In all likelihood this horse wants no part of 10 furlongs in May at Churchill Downs. But can you imagine the story even if this horse should somehow make it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May? You can't write a better story. A gelding sired by a teaser in Texas, by the same guy who broke Rachel Alexandra, ridden by Calvin Borel who would be in search of his third straight Derby win. That's too good to be true.

When I brought up the dream to Dodwell he said, "I see they are doing a movie Mine That Bird. If we ever made it to that level, I think our story has even him beat. Ours is even more rags to riches than that."

Right now it's still only a dream. But I will be watching on Saturday and hoping Aces N Kings can keep defying the odds.

For the record, Aces N Kings has propelled Jet Phone from a teaser to a registered sire standing for $1,000 at Clarence Scharbauer's Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas. Aces N Kings is currently still his only foal to run.

Stay tuned.


Leave a Comment:


I noticed his 2nd in his last race and I also noticed his sire's "elevation" to stud from teaser.

Wonderful "pulling-up-by-his-bootstraps" story.

Hope it continues into "happily-ever-after".

Always nice to root for the underdog!

16 Nov 2010 4:24 PM

A very good story, one that will be better should he win. ... Forget the Derby for now. They'd be over the moon winning a $1 million race--and he probably has a good chance.

16 Nov 2010 4:44 PM

Hey, there's some stamina on the dam side, so why not? Here's to Derby dreams.

16 Nov 2010 4:51 PM

It was a cool story when you first told it to us and it's even a better one now. Definitely a horse to watch! Best of luck to him and his connections.

16 Nov 2010 6:27 PM

 Love this story, can't wait to see what happens this weekend. Thanks, Jason, you have really sparked my interest.

16 Nov 2010 8:32 PM
Bet Twice

Great story.  These horses are what makes racing so fun.  I'll keep an eye out for him this weekend.  

16 Nov 2010 9:15 PM

They'd have run him in the BC Turf Sprint this year, as a 2 year old? Is that even possible?

16 Nov 2010 10:51 PM
The Rock

Horrible ride in that 9/25 race. He should've just let him run on the lead. Instead he gets caught in a pocket and then shuffled. I'm not sure about the bullring for this horse. You can see on the turns he's noticeably struggling to lengthen his stride, but once he hits the straight he's picking it up nicely. I noticed earlier in the article the trainer mentions he's got a long stride, which is probably why he struggled on the turns on the turf, which are tighter than the main track.

Nonetheless, neat little story given the circumstances.

16 Nov 2010 11:00 PM


Could they have run him in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint?  I thought the only races that two years olds could run in where the Juvie races. Just wondering.  Great story. Hope to see him in the Derby!

16 Nov 2010 11:26 PM
Anne at ETC

tlamarra - "forget the Derby for now..."  No one with a nice 2yo in Nov/Dec can "forget the Derby"!

And what can keep us in racing more than dreams??

Love these stories - Thanks Jason!

17 Nov 2010 8:23 AM

Glad we have moved on from the BC and HOY debate!  Great story and I am looking forward to watching the Delta Jackpot.

Zookeeper, how is Runflatout doing?

17 Nov 2010 8:41 AM
Zen's Auntie

Thanks for the feel good Story Jason, I appreciate this stuff.  

I did take a look and WOW he looked well beaten and then dug in and lunged right back after it -  Tasty indeed.  

I have been looking forward to watching the Delta Jackpot and now I have a new "favorite" to root for. I hope he can make thier dreams come true - without a dream who'd ever load one in the gate?

17 Nov 2010 10:04 AM
Love 'em all (mares, dudes, birds, etc)

I stayed tuned after reading Part 1 in June, so you can bet I'll continue to stay tuned to anything and everything I can read about Aces N Kings.

Got a tip yesterday at another site ... about Saturday's race. Cheering for ANK and CB all the way.  Wish them both the best.

Thanks so much for the update.

17 Nov 2010 10:17 AM
Smoking Baby

How cool is this?  I remember loving the story back in the summer but must admit I had forgotten to follow Aces N Kings.  I hope he wins the big race Saturday.

17 Nov 2010 10:29 AM
Jason Shandler

Sorry, I meant BC Juvenile Turf. It's been corrected.

17 Nov 2010 10:41 AM

i was wondering why he wasn't he wasnt entered in the bc.

17 Nov 2010 10:54 AM

Cool story Jason!  

17 Nov 2010 11:27 AM
an ole rail bird

hats off too aces& kings. i look forward to his next year. in the last 30 years i have seen horses like him, born in horse poverty of texas, that never got to go out of the part of texas where the were born.maybe aces&kings will break thru &get a chance to go run, with the big horses.

17 Nov 2010 11:59 AM

This was one of the very first times I have just watched a horse and not cared whether he went to the B.C. or not, Derby or not, Preakness or not, Belmont, Travers, Classic, Dubai W.C., I will follow Aces N Kings throughout his entire career, win or lose I will watch this good gelding.I love this horse lots!! More than most horses I have ever watched. It will however to see Dreamsrunwild go against Aces N Kings again, they seem to run against eachother a lot, migh be interesting.

17 Nov 2010 12:16 PM

Delta Downs - November 20, 2010

Race 7 - 4:15 PM    

STAKES Delta Downs Jackpot S. (Grade III)

Purse $1,000,000. For Two Year Olds. One And One Sixteenth Miles.  

PP Horse Virtual

Stable A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer

1 Gourmet Dinner (FL)   2/C L S O Madrid 119 S W Standridge

2 Classic Legacy (FL)   2/C L J Talamo 117 B Baffert

3 Aces N Kings (TX)   2/G L C H Borel 119 H B Johnson, Jr.

4 Rush Now (KY)   2/C L R Albarado 119 A W Dutrow

5 Clubhouse Ride (KY)   2/C L* P A Valenzuela 119 C A Lewis

6 Bug Juice (NY)   2/G L J Castellano 119 B N Levine

7 Decisive Moment (FL)   2/C L K D Clark 117 J D Arias

8 Blue Laser (KY)   2/C L S Bridgmohan 122 M E Casse

9 Sweet Ducky (KY)   2/C L J Bravo 119 K J Breen

10 Dreamsrunwild (LA)   2/C L I V Diego 119 S Duke

Also Eligibles:  

11 Justin Phillip (KY)   2/C L* G Melancon 117 S M Asmussen

12 Trubs (KY)   2/C L J M Campbell 117 A M Stall, Jr.

17 Nov 2010 3:44 PM

Valor Farm is beautiful!!  Good for Jet Phone!!

17 Nov 2010 8:11 PM

I know where this horse trains...a 5f training track that is

that is very forgiving. A bullring like Delta will suit him fine.

The change in rider should move him up a bunch, especially since he grew up riding at Delta. This should be

a lot of fun to watch. Lots of luck to Aces&Kings !!

17 Nov 2010 11:05 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Man. I feel bad for Mike Mitchell losing Jaycito, and think he could have gotten the job done, but Baffert ain't too shabby. I wonder who will get the mount? Baffert is still the best Derby trainer however so it's understandable, plus the Zayat and Baffert connection. I think I'm coming down with something. Could be Derby Fever. It's tough to shake even with Vitamin C. It could take many months to get over it. Maybe a shot of Kentucky Bourbon a day will help to take a little something off the chill.

18 Nov 2010 1:13 AM
Smoking Baby

Dr. Drunkinbum, I'm told REBEL YELL is a Kentucky Bourbon that will get your attention.  Problem is it only makes your Derby fever worse and it makes for Form harder to read.

18 Nov 2010 10:52 AM
Billy's Empire

Drunk, you may need to just come to KY and go on a tour of a distillery, then run across Versailles Road and visit a farm. You will forget all about the Derby, if only for an hour or 2.

18 Nov 2010 11:20 AM

Dr. Drunkinbum,

I recommend a shot of Irish Whiskey followed by a Sam Adams Black Lager!  Jaycito should improve with the switch and it will be fun to watch to see if anyone can beat Uncle Moe.

18 Nov 2010 12:39 PM

Was Mitchell the trainer of Thorn Song, who also bolted in a stakes race?  Jaycito, went very wide in the the first turn of the BC Juvenile and that may end up being the real reason for the trainer switch.

18 Nov 2010 1:10 PM
Ted from LA


 I don't know if this will help or not but here's my Top Seven Handicapping Rules:

1. Never drink before noon (Eastern Time) on race days.

2. Never bet 2-1 or less.

3. Never bet a straight exacta unless you bet the box also.

4. Never start a Pk3 with a low odds key.

5. Never mix beer, wine, and hard stuff on race days until all of the races are over.

6. Never drink Bacardi 151 on race days or any other time.

7. Never make big bets on tilt. Reduce bet size when losing.

Dr Drunkinbum 15 Nov 2010 4:30 PM

Dr. Drunkinbum,

I have a similar set of rules:

1.  Never drive the mobile lab to the track on the Friday before betting the horses on Saturday.

2.  Never wear a kilt on windy days at Arlington Park.

3.  Never check your alternator belt while wearing a tie .

4.  Never drink Bloody Marys in the neighborhood around Churchill Downs before sun-up or after sundown.

5.  Never bet on a 190 pound jockey.

6.  Never bet on a horse that the jockey says "isn't right" on national TV before the race.

7. Never try to pull an accidentally discarded winning ticket out of a smoking trash can.

8. If you see two jockeys yelling at each other in the winner's circle, don't yell, "fight, fight, fight."  

18 Nov 2010 1:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Big upset coming in The Derby.

Billy's Empire

    That would be nice. Hopefully I can make that happen someday.

Smoking Baby

   Racing rule #8-No trying to read the pp's if drinking. Study the pp's and make your picks first !!! Save the drinking for cheering on your bets.

18 Nov 2010 2:45 PM

Just watched THS, very interesting! In the past, I didn't pay too much attention to young horses until the KD preps, starting after the first of the year. My focus was certainly not on the happenings at Delta Downs but this story and it being the subject of THS has done a lot to peak my interest this year.

I'm excited about this race and I'm looking forward to it. I know Rule won it last year and it didn't pan out for him as far as the KD goes, but I'm hoping that this year brings in a better prospect for the first Saturday in May. We'll see! We can't have the MO SHOW be a walk-over. :)

18 Nov 2010 3:23 PM

Did you guys know that Delta Downs has free PPs available on their website?


18 Nov 2010 4:56 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

  Fantastic !!! I love your rules, and will incorporate most of them into my picking and betting strategy. I think all of my rules include not wearing a tie, and none of them include not having a Bloody Mary.  

18 Nov 2010 4:58 PM


 Off topic but I was wondering if you had time to cap tonights card at Churchill. I read where they are hoping for tweny-five thousand people and was thinking there might be some "free" money available. Is there anybody you like for a price? I'll post later if I see any.

19 Nov 2010 7:41 AM
Smoking Baby

Dr. Drunkinbum & Ted From LA

Sage advice gentlemen...Sage advice.

19 Nov 2010 11:00 AM
Pam S.

I remember (now) the story in June about this horse, and though I had forgotten about him, I will definitely watch the Delta race tomorrow to see how he does. The trainer is right, if you like a rags-to-riches tale, this one is hard to top.

Jason, either in the same blog or at about the same time, there was something about the filly Lady Giacomo.  What happened to her?

19 Nov 2010 12:00 PM


Keep your eyes on Sweet Ducky ...should be untouchable in the Jackpot.  He's one for the classics next year.

Dr Drunkinbum, your handicapping tips scare me after watching Jaycito run like a drunkinbum in the Breeder's Cup juvenile and seeing halucinate over Setsuko in the last Triple Crown trail.  As for Ted from LA's version, I didn't break any of his rules yet Quality Road and Haynesfield ran last and second to last respectively in the Classic.  Sorry fellas.  I'm sympathizing with Smoking Baby ...looks like your sage advice is gonna make him a drunkin baby (LOL).

19 Nov 2010 3:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I didn't pick Jaycito to win the BC Juv. I picked Uncle Mo. A Derby List has nothing to do with the BC Juv. And there is no doubt that my Derby list will change.  I've been quite gentle with you concerning your ranting and raving over QR and how he was going to demolish the field in The Classic. Many of us knew he was in the wrong race. I don't know exactly what you're saying about Setsuko but no need to follow up.   

19 Nov 2010 9:24 PM

Anyone else notice Ranagulzion becoming a noisy Draynay ever seen his horse QR finished dead last ?  I guess he's having a hard time with it having publicly proclaimed him the king.  

It's okay Ranagulzion, you don't have to try to be Draynay.  We've seen you pick some good ones, get over the Classic man.  We all know you picked the wrong horse but it's all over now. Move on.

20 Nov 2010 4:46 AM

Dr. Drunkinbum : I agree, I don't know what made the switch because I think one bad race doesn't make a bad trainer.  I'm still not sure what happened to Jaycito running in the middle of the track but the only thing I can think of is that the owner is seriously thinking this is a derby contender and who else do you go to when it comes to preparing 2 yr colts for the TC ?  Baffert.

I've been on Jaycito's since you told me about him and I'm sticking with him throughout the TC races and beyond.  My gut instinct, he'll do very well next year, he better or I'll lose a lot of money hehe.

As for Aces N Kings, it really is a great story and I hope it works out for the horse and the connections.  Even if they just hit the board, I think it's a great success story already.  Last time I saw, he's 12-1, juicy price!

20 Nov 2010 4:51 AM

Gee..I just posted that last comment on the wrong blog.  Meant to put it on 2011 handicap horses.

20 Nov 2010 8:07 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  You're right on all counts, and yes I'm still a Jaycito fan too.

20 Nov 2010 2:00 PM

I think Aces n Kings didn't like Calvin.  Dangit, why do trainers/owners always want to mess with a winning team?  Serves 'em right. :-(

20 Nov 2010 11:07 PM

Wow...Aces N' Kings...put me in mind of 85ina50.  Was Calvin tossed, or did he bail?  Couldn't figure it out.  Felt bad for Blue Laser.  It looked more like a rodeo than a horse race at Delta Downs for the Jackpot.

21 Nov 2010 8:43 AM

Does anyone know if Ace is ok? I watched the race and saw Calvin jump off, Mr. Shandler do you know if hes ok?

21 Nov 2010 10:48 AM
Jason Shandler

I read that his stifle locked and that is why he bolted. Too bad. I am not sure of his status but I can find out.

21 Nov 2010 10:51 AM
Love 'em all

My thoughts and prayers are with Aces N Kings ... and Calvin Borel.

There's some helpful info at Google concerning a horse's stifle, which will have to do this one until we learn more from the B-H experts.

Again, I'm terribly sorry ... for all those involved. I wish only the best for ANK and BC.  Hope we learn more soon.

21 Nov 2010 12:18 PM
Yvonne and Maurice Kirby

Mr. Shandler, please let us know how AcesNKings is - I was heart broken - I too don't think his jockey should have been changed.  I had hoped to see him in the Derby.  Please let us know how he is.

21 Nov 2010 12:38 PM

Sorry to read that Calvin came out of this with a broken jaw, but it could've been a lot worse.  Looked like he sort of slipped off and was standing, as opposed to falling.

Really tough luck for the horses taken out of the race by AnK.

Jason, hope you get a good report on Aces N Kings from Mr. Johnson.  A locked stifle apparently doesn't have to be career-ending if he's exercised properly.  He's only a 2yo and maybe has been raced a bit too much while the muscles that might have protected him from this hadn't fully developed. JMHO.

21 Nov 2010 12:55 PM
the gip

Aces seems to be doing fine bounced all the way back to the barn cleaned up his feed last night and walked good this morning will keep you updated.

21 Nov 2010 6:11 PM

Thanks the gip.  We appreciate the update.  

21 Nov 2010 7:17 PM

I didn't see the race, but sounds like from gip's report, he's doing fine which is great.  Hope CB recovers well.

I do agree with Sherpa about trying to "fix things that aren't broken".  So many times we've seen this.  Sometimes experience doesn't match up with the relationship between a horse and a rider.  LAL had always had Martin working him and look how he responded to Martin vs GoGo...

21 Nov 2010 8:14 PM

the gip - thank you so much for that news!

21 Nov 2010 8:39 PM

I hope hes ok I love this boy so much!! He got into the 10th position of most looked at profiles though!! YAY!! Hopefully his next race will be his somewhat redeeming race. GO ACES N KINGS!!

21 Nov 2010 11:45 PM
Yvonne and Maurice Kirby

Hi - I am so happy to hear that Acees N Kings is doing well.  I was so heart broken.  Yes, I definitely agree, keep the jockey he loves on him!!  I hope to see him in the Kentucky Derby.  Perhaps he should be rested until the new year.  Extra mints for him.

22 Nov 2010 10:13 AM

I love Aces N Kings too. Kept waiting to read an update about his condition and didn't see one (should have checked here but I didn't). I emailed the ranch and I thought I would share the reply with you all :)

Thank you for your email.  Aces N Kings will be fine.  He hung his stifle in the

final turn for a stride or 2.  The ground that had caused many horses to slip that day may have caused it.  Calvin backed him off to keep from hurting himself

and then slide off and then Calvin got hit by another horse.  When Calvin woke up, the first thing he asked was how is the horse.  Calvin said he was in the

perfect position, just where he wanted him, all he had to do is ask for the home

run that we all know the horse can do.  Luck was not on our side.  Calvin really liked the horse and would like to ride him again in the future.  Right now the

horse is being checked over and will have a nice rest that was scheduled whether

the horse won or lost.  

Thanks for being a fan of Aces N Kings...Calvin is too,


Hope this makes everyone's Thanksgiving a little happier, I know it did mine!

24 Nov 2010 5:50 PM

Thank you, Katherine - good news indeed!  I'm glad to hear he's going to have a break now - he's had quite the campaign for a 2yo.  Looking forward to seeing him run next year.

24 Nov 2010 10:29 PM

I am actually hoping that he might might come back for the Cashcall in December but I think he has raced enough this year. I wish he would head to the Cashcall but for me it really doesn't matter all that much.

26 Nov 2010 3:38 PM
the gip

Aces is doing so well it looks like he may run in the 250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on December 11th.

27 Nov 2010 12:10 PM

the gip - thank you so much for your updates, please keep them coming!

29 Nov 2010 2:11 AM

I think this is a terrific story. All the big expensive stud fees out there and here's that teaser ... Wouldn't it just be a gas if this turned out to be THE horse of 2011! Something to kind of grin about anyway!

03 Dec 2010 5:25 PM
Jane Plain

Just read where Scooter Dodwell said "Aces N Kings"  was "good to go"   Write this in your book  If a  Diamond D Dodwell tells you a rooster can pull a freight train.......just find a harness to fit the rooster!

06 Dec 2010 6:18 PM
the gip

Aces N Kings will be running in the 250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on saturday.

08 Dec 2010 5:36 PM

Well Good I really hope this will be a redeeming race whether it be 1st-3rd it would be redeeming. I have my full support on Ace and hope he wont jump the turn again.

08 Dec 2010 11:32 PM
Jane Plain

From the looks of his 1/2 mile breeze this AM at RP.  Aces N Kings might be a competitive entry in the Springboard.  Find a harness.

08 Dec 2010 11:34 PM

Anybody know if the race will televised and where? Sure would like to see AnK run.

09 Dec 2010 12:52 AM
the gip

TVG 9:45 central time

09 Dec 2010 5:14 PM

No its not on TV anywhere. Wish I could see him run live!! Well gues we'll all have ta wait. Can't wait to see how he does though.

09 Dec 2010 7:23 PM
Jane Plain

Well considering the lack of a race at Delta, and having to haul to RP for the work for the Stewards, (and why did they deem it necessary to make the shipper work a half when they could have seen all they needed in  a 3/8 breeze) and also if memory serves me right first time under lights.I would say "Aces N Kings"  is close to BACK!

14 Dec 2010 11:05 PM

Well Ace is entered this weekend in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes. Well hope that boy for the best trip and hope he can KICK SOME OF THEM HORSES BUTTS!!!! And come in first :)

20 Jan 2011 1:54 PM

His next start will be in the March 5th Grindstone.

21 Feb 2011 4:48 PM

Off to the grindstone for Aces N Kings!

02 Mar 2011 11:14 PM

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