FARMINGTON — Moments before Orb would be unsaddled as the dominant 3-year-old thoroughbred in America after his splashy, resounding win in the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., another talented sophomore runner was making headlines Saturday at SunRay Park & Casino.
Unfettered, ridden to perfection by Enrique Gomez, continued his winning ways in the $35,000 SunRay Park & Casino Handicap, drawing off at the head of the stretch to prevail by 3 1-4 lengths. The win gives Unfettered three wins in as many starts.
Unfettered, the son of Rockport Harbor who was trying a route of ground for the first time in his career, ran the mile in 1 minute, 38 seconds while easily dispatching of his four rivals, giving the early impression that there may be something more in the tank for the Johnnie Nall trainee.
Unfettered easily assumed the lead from his inside post going into the first turn. He was challenged for the lead to his inside by Clone down the backstretch through a slow half-mile time of 49.22 seconds.
Gomez and Unfettered re-engaged their rival as the field hit the far turn and, in mere strides, Unfettered was clearly in front approaching the line.
Unfettered still appears to be a bit green. He waits on horses and gets to loafing a bit when not being challenged, but it’s obvious he has the makings of being a very good racehorse.
Owned by Lathrop Hoffman, the Florida-bred colt tops his career earnings to $48,660, and may legitimately have his sights set for bigger things down the road.
Sent off as the 3-to-5 favorite, Unfettered returned $3.20 to his winning backers.
After folding under pressure turning for home, Clone held on for the place, well in front of Hardliner, Turning Tables and Ize In Command. Wnrwnrwinefordinnr was scratched earlier in the day.
The ride of the day came in the Saturday nightcap when Enrique Gomez slipped a seam between rivals on the turn for home before posting an eye-catching score aboard Natural Dreams for trainer Jesus Carrete.
Gomez and Garcia each booted a pair of winners on the Saturday card.
In addition to his win aboard Unfettered, Gomez also won aboard Vamoose in the seventh race. Garcia rode Teancum to victory in Saturday’s sixth race before the notable ride in the ninth.
Trainer Todd Fincher saddled a pair of winners on the day. He scored wins with Ask in the fourth race, then turned right back around and won with Roll Out The Band in the 5th race.
Live racing resumes today with a first post of 12:55 p.m. The featured event of the day is the $35,000 Marathon Handicap for quarter horses racing 870 yards.
A strong field of eight runners will go postward in the Marathon, with the Jaime Aldavaz-trained Im Royal Quick listed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite.
Im Royal Quick will be looking for his third straight win and his first win over the local course when he and jockey Esgar Ramirez walk into the five position in the starting gate.
The son of Royal Quck Dash has earnings topping $176,000 while having won eight times from 31 starts.
The field, from the rail out, with riders and morning line odds for today’s Marathon, which will go as the 4th race, looks like this: Oh Jess Fly, Ricardo Jaime, 9-2; Jess A Traffic Jam, Dusty Shepherd, 10-1; Docs Apollo, Bonfacio Perez, 7-2; DE Wagons Strawfly, Macario Rodriguez, 3-1; Im Royal Quick, Ramirez, 5-2; Valentino De Lao, Larry Gamez, 12-1; Flyin Fish, Isaias Cardenas, 8-1; Apollos First Down, Enrique Garcia, 20-1.