Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hialeah set to begin meet

Hialeah Park is set to begin its 4th annual Quarter Horse meet. The historic track ended thoroughbred racing in 2001 due to a date dispute with Calder Race Course, but began Quarter Horse racing in November of 2008.
     Hialeah begins on Saturday and will race on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Opening day features 4 trials for the Hialeah Lassie Futurity and 4 trials for the Hialeah Derby. Sunday's card will feature 3 trials for the FQHRA Stallion Stakes Futurity and 4 trials for the Hialieah Laddie Futurity. Finals for all 4 races will be held on Sunday, December 30th.
    Hialeah is a pretty unique track, as it features a 660 yard, or 3 furlong, chute, similar to Remington Park. 660 yards is a fairly common work distance, but a rare race distance, so it makes for some interesting races. Pools are decent at Hialeah considering it's a Quarter Horse meet. Don't play multi-race wagers, pools are awful in those, but the single race exotics are OK and you can make a few dollars. Horse Player Interactive will offer Hialeah wagering for Canadians for the first time.
    So get ready for the World's Most Beautiful Racetrack, it starts on Saturday and goes on until February 17th. Good luck to everyone who plans on wagering!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

First Blazin Love impressive in Jess Burner Memorial

First Blazin Love was an impressive winner in the Jess Burner Memorial at Sunland Park today, an RGI for 3 year old and up New Mexico breds going 400 yards for $85,000. After a perfect break, First Blazin Love was straight to the lead, and rider Jesse Levario never looked back, winning by a length. The 3 year old colt has an affinity for Sunland, with 2 wins and a 2nd in 3 starts over the track. This was his 2nd start against older competition, finishing 2nd by a nose in an open allowance at Zia 3 starts back. After a win in the New Mexico Classic Derby at Zia, First Blazin Love won as the 5-1 third choice for trainer Paul Jones.
    8 year old Miracle Snow finished 4th as the 3/2 favorite, with no excuses coming from the outside post 10. The classy veteran has won 13 of his 46 lifetime starts, and has earned over $500,000. Based on form, he should have won the race, but I noticed he doesn't seem to like Sunland too well, only winning 1 time and having 1 third in 8 starts at the track. Hopefully trainer Wesley Giles & owners Mary & Melvin Neugebauer will give him some time off, and wait until SunRay Park's meet begins in April.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

It's Sunland Time!

As I've been tweeting somewhat obsessively for the last few days, it's time for the 2012-13 meet at Sunland Park. Racing recently ended at Zia Park in Hobbs, and now the New Mexico circuit moves to Sunland.
     I'm thankful for the move from Zia to Sunland for one reason in particular: the camera work. Whoever the idiot who was holding the camera at Zia this meet caused me a great deal of frustration. The moron would continue to follow the leader after the finish line, which made it especially hard to distinguish winners in photo finishes. The guy must have been drinking on the job.
     Sunland's recognized for it's major Thoroughbred racing, especially the Grade III $800,000 Sunland Derby, a prep for the Kentucky Derby worth 50 points to the winner in the new qualifying system. The $200,000 Sunland Oaks is worth the same towards the Kentucky Oaks. The Borderland Derby, the final local prep for the Sunland Derby, has now been renamed the Mine That Bird Derby for the track's little treasure.
     But this is all stuff anybody who follows racing reasonably well has heard.
     Let's get to the good stuff: the Quarter Horses. Much as Los Al is the best Quarter Horse track from a betting prospective, New Mexico is home to the best Quarter Horse racing. There's always big fields and huge excitement. Sunland's signature Quarter Horse events are the Grade I Championship, a $350,000 Invitational going 400Y, and the New Mexico Challenge, a qualifying race for the Grade I Bank of America Challenge. There are many other Quarter Horse stakes spread across the 76 day meet, but those are the 2 notable ones.
     One thing about Sunland: it's fast. Track record for 440Y: 20.274, set by First Moonflash. Track record for 870Y: 43.029, set by Gone To The Mountain. Those are absurd times. Great horses set them, sure, but those are ridiculously fast.
    Sunland features Pick 4s in the first and last 4 races, and also has $.10 Pick 6 (for those in the States, not available up here in Canada yet) and $1 Grand Slam wagering. Starting this meet, the minimum for Daily Double wagering has been lowered from $2 to $1.
    So Quarter Horse fans everywhere, get ready, cause we're in for a great meet! It all starts on Friday, and it keeps going until April.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Prospect to the Top upsets Zia Quarter Horse Championship; is Llano Teller tailing off?

Zia Park hosted the Grade I Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship today. The race was won by Prospect to the Top, ridden by Oscar Rincon & trained by Mario Sanchez for owner Joel Tavarez. After a clean break, Prospect to the Top ran perfectly straight, got clear sailing, and won by about 2 lengths, covering the 440 yards in 21.323s. In 5 prior starts at Zia, he had never finished worse than 3rd, with 3 wins, a second and a third, including wins in the Hobbs America Derby & the Hobbs America Futurity. At 6-1, Prospect to the Top paid $14.90 to win, $14.30 to place and $10.40 to show.
     The big surprise was how poorly Llano Teller ran. The 4 year old, who won last year's All American Derby and was coming out of a runner-up finish in the Bank of America Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows finished a disappointing 6th, with no obvious excuse. He broke in a little bit, but it was not severe enough to warrant the poor finish. It leads me to ask the question: is Llano Teller tailing off? Is he the horse he once was? His form still looks fairly strong, but there was no excuse for today's effort. His last effort at Prairie Meadows was a 2nd in a Grade I, but I really don't think he put in 100% that night. He has thrown unusual weak efforts, citing his Texas Classic Derby race last year, and maybe he didn't like the Zia surface, but I'm very curious about today's race. I'm very curious to see how he'll race next time.
     Also on this afternoon's card was the Zia Park Distance Championship for Thoroughbreds going 1 1/8 miles for $200,000. The races was won by Forest Mouse, who was coming off a runner up finish in the Veteran Stakes. Both in the Veteran and in the Ruidoso Thoroughbred Championship he was beaten a neck by Global Stage, who was entered in the Distance Championship but was a late scratch at the gate. Forest Mouse went off at at his morning line estimate of 3-1 and paid $8.20 to win.
    Zia will race on Monday & Tuesday, and then the New Mexico circuit will move to Sunland Park on Friday.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Closing weekend at Zia; Llano Teller looks tough

Zia Park will end it's 2012 meet on Tuesday, but the action is on Saturday and Sunday, when 5 stakes races (1 on Sat, 4 on Sun) will highlight the cards.
     Saturday will feature the $150,000 Zia Park Derby for thoroughbreds going 1 1/16 miles. Politicallycorrect, who won the Damascus on the Breeder's Cup Saturday undercard and the Oklahoma Derby, was nominated but not entered, staying in SoCal for the Malibu. Damascus runner-up Private Zone was entered in the Zia Derby, but trainer Doug O'Neil announced that he would be scratched, also opting to wait for the Malibu, leaving Alsvid, a multiple stakes winner who has won 7 of 11 starts, as the ML favorite. The Zia Park Derby is carded as the 10th of 11 races.
    Sunday's card will feature 4 consecutive stakes races, $55,000 Rio Rancho for 2 year old Tbreds going a mile, the Grade I Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship for 3 year olds and up going 440 yards, the $120,000 New Mexico Eddy County for New Mexico bred 2yo Tbreds going a mile, and the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship for 3 year old and up Tbreds going 1 1/8 miles.
     The  $150,000 GI Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship features 2011 All American Derby winner Llano Teller, who has drawn the 9 hole in a 10 horse field (plus two AEs.) The 4 year old has made over $1.7 million, with 11 wins in 24 starts. His last race was a runner up finish in the Grade I Bank of America Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows last month. By far the classiest runner in the field, Llano Teller's only real competition appears to be the 2 inside runners, Candy Cartel and Dm Streaking Through Fire, who may be hindered by their inside posts. The Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship is the 8th race on the 11 race card, and is the start of the $.50 Pick 4.
    The premier Thoroughbred event of the Zia meet is the Distance Championship, a $200,000 race for older runners going 1 1/8 miles. Global Stage & Forest Mouse, who finished 1-2 respective in the Veteran Stakes last time, both appear here. Despite being beaten by Global Stage, Forest Mouse has been given 3-1 ML favorite status, with Global Stage as the 4-1 2nd choice. I'm cheering for Stachys, a 5 year old who won the Zia Derby in 2010, and also won one of my favorite races: the Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs.
    Racing will finish up for the year at Zia on Tuesday. The New Mexico circuit will move to Sunland Park next, which begins its meet on Friday December 7th.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Field set for 2 Million Futurity

Los Alamitos hosted 13 trials for the $2,108,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Sunday night. 109 2 year olds were entered to compete for the 10 available posts in the final on December 26th.
      Freedom Choice came home with the fastest qualifying time, covering the 400 yards in 19.638 under jockey Cruz Mendez, who had 5 wins on the night. Coming from the far outside post 8, broke sharply, was a length in front at the 220 yard pole, lugged in very sharply but won by an impressive 2 1/4 lengths. Freedom choice is owned by Gustavo De La Torre and trainer Jose De La Torre. He earned an 88 speed index, and paid $15.20 to win.
Superstar One Dashing Eagle, who won the Ed Burke Million, All American Futurity, and the Golden State Million Futurity, was absent while undergoing a "clean up surgery on his knee and ankle," according to owner Gustavo De La Torre.

The 10 fastest qualifying times for the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity are:
Freedom Choice - 19.638
The August Heat - 19.705
Matabari - 19.763
Far Niente - 19.778
Seperate Interest - 19.821
Aha Moment - 19.829
Fires Blazin - 19.864
Lavish Suzan - 19.871
Commando Tres Seis - 19.885
Somethin Like This - 19.890

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Secret Courage upsets in Southwest Juvenile Championship

Secret Courage was the upset winner of Sunday's Grade I Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park, going off at 22-1.
Coming from post 5, the 2 year old gelding was ridden by Jaime Leos, who had previously piloted him to his only prior victory, a 350 yard Maiden at Zia. The winning margin today was a neck. Secret Courage upped his earnings to $135,190 for trainer Ramon Ronquillo and owner Francisco Acevedo. He now holds a record of 5 starts, 2 wins and 1 thirds. He covered the 440 yards in 21.664 seconds, earning an 89 speed index.
Finishing 2nd was Hobbs America Futurity winner A Dream To Remember, who went off as the 2-1 favorite, marking her 1st defeat in 3 starts at Zia Park. The Corona Cartel filly was piloted by G. R. Carter Jr from post 2 and covered the distance in 21.701, also earning an 89 speed index.
Sam Houston Futurity winner Sassmaster finished 3rd from post 7. Coming off a victory in the Texas Classic Juvenile at Lone Star Park, Sassmaster and jockey Francisco Ramirez Jr covered the 440 yards in 21.822, which earned an 86 speed index.

Secret Courage paid $47.20 to win, $35.00 to place and $11.80 to show.
A Dream To Remember paid $4.60 to place and $3.00 to show.
Sassmaster paid $3.00 to show.
$2.00 Exacta paid $255.60 - 5/2
$2.00 Trifecta paid $6,533.40 - 5/2/7
$2.00 Superfecta paid $4,708.60 - 5/2/7/4

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Dream To Remember headlines Southwest Juvenile

Zia Park will host the Grade I Southwest Juvenile Championship on Sunday. The Invitational race for 2 year olds carries a purse of $200,000 and is run over the classic distance of 440 yards.
     Headlining the field is Hobbs America Futurity winner A Dream To Remember. The filly is trained by Paul Jones and will be under rider G. Carter Junior. After a few unsuccessful attempts at qualifying to Ruidoso's trio of Grade I Futurities, A Dream To Remember has taken very well to Zia Park, undefeated in 2 starts over the surface. Coming off of her impressive victory in the Hobbs America Futurity, she is looking to make it 3 in a row, and add the $96,000 winner's share to her earnings. She is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
     After dominating in the Ontario Jackpot Futurity at Fort Erie Race Track, Hurri Cartel (7-2 ML) is looking to double up for trainer Clinton Crawford. Hurri Cartel has only faced defeat once in his 6 race career, finishing a well beaten 5th in the Speed Horse Futurity at Fair Meadows. He is yet to race further than 350 yards, and will be facing his toughest challenge yet here. Tony Ray Bennett will retain the mount.
     4-1 3rd choice on the morning line, Sam Houston Futurity winner Sassmaster is looking to make it 3 in a row. After winning a trial for the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park, he came back to win the consolation Texas Classic Juvenile. The Shae Cox trainee has the most earnings out of the entire field, winning $227,478 in 7 starts. Francisco Ramirez will take the mount.

The field for the Grade I Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park tomorrow is as follows:

11Dashin Ace (NM)2/GLJ Montoya122M W Joiner5/1
22A Dream to Remember (OK)2/FLG R Carter, Jr.122P C Jones3/1
33Whiteface Eagle (TX)2/FE Ramirez122J Aldavaz, Jr.6/1
44Rockin Disco (OK)2/GLR Hadley122M Wakefield10/1
55Secret Courage (TX)2/GLJ P Leos122R Ronquillo12/1
66Hurri Cartel (TX)2/GLT R Bennett122C Crawford7/2
77Sassmaster (TX)2/GLF R Ramirez, Jr.122S L Cox4/1
88Thequeenhasgonenuts (TX)2/FLA Silva122T Keeton8/1

The Southwest Juvenile is the 10th of 11 races at Zia on Sunday, and will go off at 4:09 PM Mountain Time, 6:09 PM Eastern.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

One Handsome Man wins the Dash For Cash Futurity by DQ

9-5 favorite One Handsome Man finished 2nd but was placed 1st in last night's G1  $425,565 Dash For Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park. Prince Valleyant won the 400Y race in a time of 19.626s, but was disqualified and placed 6th, leaving One Handsome Man the winner. Oscar Rincon rode One Handsome Man for trainer Ralph Muniz and owner Flying Hooves RC LLC. Fdd Going Grand finished 3rd, placed 2nd, and The August Heat finished 4th, placed 3rd.

Lone Star also hosted the G2 $174,000 Dash For Cash Derby. Chicks Smart Money, who had the fastest qualifying time, took the race under rider Cody Jensen, covering the 440Y in 21.320s. Longshot Fast Prize Mike finished 2nd, and Lethal Volt took 3rd. Favorite Jess Lips broke in and bumped Windham, and finished 5th. Chicks Smart Money is trained by Robert Dimitt and owned by Joe L. & Judith O. Chappell Trust.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome everybody, handicappers and racing fans, to my new blog, Quarter Horse Racing. I think the title says it all. As a fan, handicapper and occasional bettor, I hope be able to give you all the updates on the sport. I will try to give the news from meets all across North America, from Ajax to Los Alamitos, from Ruidoso to Hialeah.
I will also blog race analysis once in a while, from tracks I enjoy, and (assuming someone asks) a requested card of racing. I will occasionally discuss Thoroughbred racing, and harness racing on big nights (i.e. Breeder's Crown, Hambletonian, etc.)
Enjoy, and thanks for reading.
- L. Doug McPherson