FARMINGTON — The name of the game for horseplayers this weekend at SunRay Park is survival.
During long weekends such as this, with all the activity and attention in the sport of horse racing back east in Louisville, Ky., it’s important to stay focused and remember there’s always another race coming up.
With all the top-flight action happening today at Churchill Downs during the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby, it is equally important to remember that a pair of solid nine-race programs are happening this weekend at SunRay Park & Casino with two stakes races headlining the festivities.
Today, a field of six 3-year-old thoroughbreds will square off in the $35,000 SunRay Park & Casino Handicap, which will go as the eighth race on the card. It will start at 12:55 p.m.
Sunday, distance specialist quarter horses will race 870 yards in the $35,000 Marathon Handicap, the featured event on another strong nine-race card.
Trainer Henry Dominguez, who has vaulted to near the top of the overall trainer standings this meet at SunRay, will saddle both Hardliner and Turning Tables in the SunRay Park & Casino Handicap, which will be run at a distance of one mile.
Turning Tables, drawn on the outside in the six-horse field, comes off a maiden victory in his sixth career start on March 31 at Sunland Park.
Owned by the Solitaire Stables and Gary Thompson, Turning Tables, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Eurosilver, will be tackling a new track and racing over a route of ground for the first time in his career.
Listed on the morning line as the 9-to-2 fourth choice in the wagering, Turning Tables will be ridden by Alejandro Medellin.
Hardliner comes off a no-threat sixth in the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland last February. Owned by Kirk and Judy Robison, the son of Rock Hard Ten will be piloted by Macario Rodriguez for the first time in his career.
Prior to the Mine That Bird Derby, Hardliner broke his maiden at Sunland Park in his second career start. He was fast at SunRay Park last week and could turn the tables after the dull effort against stakes company.
The 2-to-1 morning line favorite in today’s SunRay Park & Casino Handicap is Unfettered, who is undefeated in two starts and is coming off a strong optional claiming win last month at Sunland.
Trained by Johnnie Nall for owner Lathrop Hoffman, Unfettered is a son of Rockport Harbor who has won both his career starts by a combined 15 1-2 lengths. He drew the rail and will be piloted by Enrique Gomez for today’s outing.
Sunday’s featured race, the $35,000 Marathon Handicap, features a field of eight runners with the 5-to-2 morning line favorite I’m Royal Quick, trained by Jaime Aldavaz and scheduled to be ridden by Esgar Ramirez.
NOTES: Post time for the today’s Kentucky Derby is slated for 4:24 p.m. Current weather forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of showers throughout the afternoon...Friday at SunRay Park & Casino, jockeys Macario Rodriguez and Enrique Gomez brought home a pair of winners. Rodriguez won the third race aboard Time To Zoom and the seventh race aboard Baby Doe. Both of Gomez’ winners came for trainer Henry Dominguez. They teamed up for wins in the sixth race with Frequent Fame and then in the eighth race with Ticket To Broadway.