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.