LOS ALAMITOS RACE COURSE, CYPRESS, CA.... Black Ruby is the undisputed queen of mule racing right now, however, Sarah Nelson appears to be the future heiress to the throne.

Racing for Roger Downey and saddled by Connie Hall at Los Alamitos, Sarah Nelson improved her record to nine wins in 10 starts after defeating a classy group in the first pari-mutuel mule race ever contested at Los Alamitos.

With Victor Miranda handling the reins, Sarah Nelson easily defeated 10-1 longshot Jet Setter by 1 3/4 lengths in the $7,000 Mule Speed Index Race Friday at Los Alamitos. Sarah Nelson earned $3,850 after covering the 350-yard distance in :20.64.

"I've ridden a lot of mules and she's the best one I've ever been on," Miranda said. "I'd like to see her in a match race against Black Ruby. I think she would give her a run for the money."

In only her second year of racing, Sarah Nelson has definitely stamped herself as one for the future. The Oregon bred mare has scored six daylight wins in her young career, including a one 3/4-length triumph in the World Championship Futurity in Fresno on October 13.

"She's a quick mare," said Miranda, who was piloting Sarah Nelson for the first time. "I'm happy and thankful that the connections gave me a chance to ride her."

Sarah Nelson made an impression on Hall right from the start.

"You can see that she's very powerful," said Hall, who also saddled Evelyn Nelson and Jessie Perez.

Hall, who has conditioned World Champion Quarter Horse A Ransom and World Champion Paint Horses Real Easy Cash and Cha Cha Chickie, added that it was a pleasure to work with the mules.

"They came in well trained and prepared for this race. The mules fit right in at the barn and they train just like horses. It was fun to be part of this race and I'm grateful to Roger Downey from bringing them to me."

Jet Setter, saddled by Dave Montgomery, earned $1,400 for his runner-up effort. Jet Setter has finished first or second in 17 of his 34 starts. Jim Burns, the regular pilot of Black Ruby, piloted Jet Setter.

Sis-Q Skipa Libby finished third. Evelyn Nelson, X-15, Fancy, Jessie Perez, Sis-Q Lena, Bar JF Docette, and Wilburs Folley followed her across the wire.

The mutuel handle for this race was $39,939 while the exacta pool was $31,786. The mutuel handle (win-place-show) was the third highest of nine races on the night.


Alex Bautista is as versatile of a rider as you will ever find, so it was no surprise to find him aboard a mule on Friday night. Currently the meet's leading Quarter Horse rider, Bautista has also won titles aboard Thoroughbreds and Arabians at Los Alamitos. Always ready for a new experience, Bautista piloted eventual fourth place finisher Evelyn Nelson in the track's first pari-mutuel mule race ever.

Therefore, what did Bautista think of his first mount aboard the breed? "It was fun and different," he said. "Mules are a big show everywhere they go and even I caught up in the excitement. It was fun to be part of this historic race.

"The one thing they told me about them is to be careful pulling them up. You can't just stand up and pull on the reins because if you do that they'll just turn around and look at you and you'll be sent flying. You have to sit down and just let them run past the wire."