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.