Thursday, 14 February 2013

State-breds highlight Sunland weekend

I love New Mexico racing. I love the Quarter Horses, I love lightning fast dirt tracks, and I love frog juice. One thing I'm not a big fan of, and I'm not a fan of it anywhere, is state/province-bred racing.
     But sometimes state-bred racing can be exciting, competitive, and intriguing when it comes to betting. Sunland will be hosting two Stakes races for New Mexico-breds this weekend; the Peppers Pride Handicap (previously the Sydney Valentini Handicap) on Saturday for Thoroughbred fillies & mares going a mile, and the NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes on Sunday for 3 year old Quarter Horses going 400 yards. Both races have a purse of $85,000.
Peppers Pride wins the 2008 Sydney Valentini Handicap
     The Peppers Pride Handicap is named after the most famous New Mexico-bred ever. Peppers Pride went undefeated in her 19-start career, earning $1,066,085 in the process. Enough to warrant a Stakes race named after her. A field of 7 will go to gate, and an argument can be made for almost every one of them. Perhaps the most notable of the bunch is Hennesey Smash, the only 4 year old filly of the group. Hennesey Smash has only been beaten once in her 7 race career, but has yet to travel farther than 6 furlongs. She has class, and it was proven last time in her win against open company in the Bold Ego Handicap, but she may have a tough time overcoming the anti-speed in route race bias at Sunland. Hennesey Smash's trainer, Todd Fincher, also sends out Rose's Desert, who's won 7 of her 10 lifetime starts and has never finished worse than 2nd. She's earned over $400,000, which is more than anyone else in the field, and she will likely go off as the favorite, as she has in her last 9 starts. The other interesting horse in the race, and the one who will likely be my top pick when I get to fully handicapping the race, is Iplaytricks, who's 2 for 2 at the mile distance, 4 for 8 at Sunland and 8 for 18 lifetime. Like I said, very competitive field of mares and potential an interesting betting race.
     On Sunday, the RGII NMHBA Stakes will showcase a group of 10 talented 3 year old Quarter Horses. Last year's winner, Fury of the Storm, later won the RGI Zia Derby at Ruidoso Downs, and this race will likely produce several Zia Derby runners this year as well. The obvious horse to beat is Slew by You, who is exiting a win in the RGII Shue Fly Stakes. Although she was slow into form in the summer, she's gotten better with experience and is looking for her 4th consecutive win. Hottest trainer/jockey combo in the country Victor Rodriguez-Flores and Esgar Ramirez are looking for a win with One Blazin Kimbo, who finished 4th by a 1/2 length in the Shue Fly after being forced out at the break, rallying strongly. In a sense it's a race between them, but in a Stakes with no trial races, it won't surprise me if a horse shows up from an Allowance that may be overshadowed by the Shue Fly runners. These are some very talented horses, several will be Restricted Graded Stakes winners in the future, and some will be open Graded Stakes winners as well.
      Horses bred in New Mexico, Thoroughbreds at least, may not be the most incredible horses in the world, but you have to be proud of what you've got. Take some time out of your weekend to see some talented horse from the Land of Enchantment.

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