ALBUQUERQUE — Jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr. definitely earned his stripes on the first day of Lineage Weekend at Albuquerque Downs.
A winner in five of the nine races on the Saturday Lineage 2013 program in front of a strong crowd of over 4300 fans, Juarez saved his best for the final race of the day, scoring aboard defending champion Spinning Touch in the $37,000 Lineage Stakes for older state-bred thoroughbreds racing 1 1-16 miles.
Juarez teamed up with trainer Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr., who saddled the top three finishers in the Lineage Stakes, with Spinning Touch defeating stablemates Playin Tough and Trooper Trooper.
Juarez guided Spinning Touch to a 3/4 length victory, wearing down Playin Tough in deep stretch after that one had assumed a short lead at the head of the lane under Isaias Cardenas.
Rose's Catena and Desert Gulch did battle on the front end through a moderate half-mile, timed in 47.94 seconds. Playin Tough assumed the lead at the head of the lane and appeared to be in command before Juarez got the defending champ rolling in deep stretch.
Owned by Michael Fuhs, Spinning Touch not only defended his title in winning the race, he also snapped a five-race losing streak that dates back to last October, when he was coming off last year's Lineage Stakes win.
Spinning Touch, who returned $10.60 as the 4.30-to-1 third choice on the board, picked up his fifth win from 35 career starts, increasing his lifetime earnings to over $212,000, while checking in with a final time of 1 minute, 43.88 seconds.
Playin Tough held on for the place ahead of Trooper Trooper. Behind them were Gotta Move, Mist Ter Noble, Rose's Catena, Neeocity, Orbiteer, Desert Gulch and Jack The Teras.
Today, Lineage Weekend continues with a bevy of quarter horse stakes racing featuring some of the top shortliners in the state.
A pair of stakes winners from last year's Lineage Championships will attempt to defend their crowns today on the second and final day of state-bred stakes action at Albuquerque Downs.
Pakea Bay and Miracle Snow, both sporting exceptional records over the Albuquerque Downs strip, will be considered major players in two of the five stakes races restricted primarily to quarter horses.
Pakea Bay, trained by Salvador Vallejos for owner Jesus Beltran, will be looking for his third win from his last four starts when he arrives at the starting gate in the $37,000 John Augustine Stakes under jockey Aldo Arboleda.
A son of Brookstone Bay, the 5-year-old Pakea Bay rallied in deep stretch to win the Augustine last year under Dusty Shepherd. Since that time, Pakea Bay has recently returned to that winning form after four dull efforts at both Zia Park and Sunland Park.
Pakea Bay won a restricted claiming race last spring at SunRay Park & Casino before defeating allowance company last time out at Albuquerque, where he owns three wins and two second place finishes from six starts.
Drawn in the outside post in the six-horse Augustine, which goes as the sixth race on the card and will be contested at 870 yards, Pakea Bay has been listed as the 9-to-2 fourth choice on the morning line.
DE Wagons Strawfly, the morning line favorite at 2-to-1, will be guided by Esgar Ramirez for trainer Richard Sedillo.
DE Wagons Strawfly is coming off a convincing score last time out at Ruidoso Downs over a sloppy racetrack in the Zia 870 Championship. A five-time winner from 19 career starts, the son of Genuine Strawfly snapped a three-race losing streak with that win last month, but has yet to race over the strip at Albuquerque.
Owned by Tony Sedillo, DE Wagons Strawfly will break from post No. 4.
The field, from the rail out, with riders and morning line odds, for the Augustine, looks like this: Dats Dee, 7-2, Casey Lambert; Leave N Legal, 6-1, Enrique Garcia; KC Royal Flush, 7-2, Oscar Cordova; DE Wagons Strawfly, 2-1, Ramirez; Big Blaze, 6-1, Jose Torres; Pakea Bay, 9-2, Arboleda.
Miracle Snow may be one of the most popular quarter horses in the state. To that end, he may be too short a price when he reaches the starting gate later today as the likely favorite in the Grade 3 Lineage Championship, the final race of Lineage weekend at Albuquerque Downs.
A 14-time winner from 51 career starts, Miracle Snow is owned by Mary and Melvin Neugebauer and trained by Wes Giles. Together, they've earned over $602,000 with this durable 9-year-old gelded son of Dean Miracle.
Miracle Snow has been installed as the 3-to-1 second choice for the 400-yard dash for older state-bred short liners. He's looking to repeat not only as winner of this race from last year, but he's also seeking back-to-back wins after a mild upset win in the Zia Handicap at Ruidoso Downs last month.
In eight races at Albuquerque, Miracle Snow has only failed to hit the board once.
All those accolades aside, it's WDC Wendys Wine who's been named as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite for the Lineage Championship, which will go as the final race of the 9-race program with a first post of 1:30 p.m.
WDC Wendys Wine has missed by a combined quarter-length in his last two starts, just missing in the Four Corners Senora Stakes at SunRay Park behind Incoho Tes and Maggie Get Down last April, then getting nosed out behind the boys in the Jimmy Drake Stakes again at SunRay on June 2 when missing to Bet on Ballou.
The Isidro Rodriguez trainee will be ridden by L.S. Martinez and will break from the outside post in the 10-horse field.
The starting gate for the Lineage Championship, with odds and jockeys, will look like this: Iseeyoustaring, 20-1, Fernando Rojas; Klassic Strawfly, Alonso Rivera, 10-1; Little Bit Southern, 8-1, Albert Medrano; Osbaldo, Jose Ruiz, 10-1; Miracle Snow, 3-1, Bourdieu; My Big Chief, 20-1, Adrian Ramos; In Famous Caper, 6-1, Ramirez; Incoho Tes, 6-1, Manuel Gutierrez; Maggie Get Down, 20-1, Jaime Leos; WDC Wendys Wine, 5-2, Martinez.
Recapping the other stakes races on Saturday's Lineage card at Albuquerque:
In a race that featured a little bit of everything, Gossip Dome rallied down the stretch to collar a front-running Tricky R on her way to victory in the $37,000 Carlos Salazar Stakes for New Mexico-bred sprinting fillies and mares.
Gossip Dome, ridden expertly by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., raced midpack early behind a lonely leading Tricky R, then swung outside on the far turn to make up ground before eventually grinding out the victory by 1 1/2 length in a final time of 1 minute, 15.25 seconds.
Trained by Eric Mikkelson for the Pesikan and Kilgroe Stables, Gossip Dome earned her ninth win from 32 starts, increasing her lifetime earnings to over $202,000.
"She got the set-up trip just like we hoped," Mikkelson said after the race. "She likes to be on the outside and this really set up nicely for her."
Gossip Dome, a 5-year-old daughter of Dome, was bet down from her 10-to-1 morning line and was sent off as a 3.90-to-1 second choice in the wagering, returning $9.80 to her supporters. She ran the 6 1-2 furlongs in 1 minute, 15.25 seconds, defeating Tricky R, who was well clear of third place finisher Attila's Hunny.
The heavy post-time favorite Devon's Spirit, making her first start in over 4 months for trainer Dick Cappellucci, broke badly as she hopped in the air as the gates opened. A late-running mare, she was far back of the field early but never managed a rally under Duane Sterling.
Western Way, Devon's Spirit, Naughty Storm and Desert Fun completed the order of finish.
A speed duel on the front end enhanced the late rally of Lakehouse Fun on her way to an impressive, 3 1/4-length score in the $37,000 Chief Narbona Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
Ridden expertly by Enrique Gomez for trainer Henry Dominguez, Lakehouse Fun was sitting in a perfect spot down the backstretch, several lengths off a quick pace set up by La Luz and Hennessy Road.
Lakehouse Fun made up ground approaching the top of the stretch, then put away La Luz in midstretch before eventually drawing clear, well ahead of runnerup Hennessy Road.
Owned by Kirk and Judy Robison, Lakehouse Fun earned her fourth win from 13 lifetime starts. The win snapped a six-race losing streak for the daughter of Roll Hennessy Roll.
Lakehouse Fun was sent off at odds of 3.70-to-1 and returned $9.40 to each winning ticket, while she ran the six furlongs in a final time of 1 minute, 9.05 seconds.
Post time favorite Park Lane Lass crossed the wire third, with CL Phone Home, Dandy Devona RF, Silver Streakn Gal, Strawberry Bling, Secrets On Ice, La La La Dandy and La Luz rounding out the field.
It may have taken some time for Anzaki to get involved in stakes racing, but now that the son of Anziyan is here, he might just stay awhile.
Anzaki and jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr., took over the lead approaching the far turn from Beau Wizer, then inched clear at the head of the lane before drawing off to an impressive, x-length win over Lota Talent in the $37,000 Casey Darnell Pony Express, for state-bred older male sprinters.
Anzaki has now won two stakes in a row, taking last month's Sierra Blanca Handicap over a muddy track at Ruidoso. A four-time winner from 15 career starts, Anzaki seems to be getting better with each race this year for his connections, trainer Alberto Amparan and owner Linda Hutchinson.
Sent off as the 19-to-10 second choice in the betting, Anzaki returned $5.80 for each winning ticket. He ran the 5 1-2 furlongs in a fast final time of 1 minute, 2.29 seconds, just three-fifths of a second off the track record.
Lota Talent came running on late to narrowly get second money ahead of Hunting Dixie. Beau Wizer and Speedy Caracal rounded out the order of finish, while Big Blaze was scratched earlier in the day.
Make it a perfect 2-for-2 for Joker's Touch, who proved to be an easy, albeit somewhat tiring winner in the $37,000 Don Juan de Onate Stakes for 3-year-old New Mexico-breds.
Ridden by Albuquerque Downs leading jockey Isaias Cardenas, Joker's Touch assumed command over Pie Town NM nearing the far turn in the six-furlong sprint, quickly opened up a commanding lead at the head of the lane before prevailing by 1 3/4 lengths over a late-running Jenson's Miracle.
Coming off a devastating maiden score in his debut just 14 days ago over this track, the connections of Joker's Touch made the call to come back quickly into this spot. That decision paid off nicely as it appears this gelding could be a nice prospect in the making.
Though Joker's Touch was never in danger of losing the race inside the final furlong, it did appear as if the son of Touchdown Ky was getting a little tired in the final yards, his 7-length lead at the head of the lane eroding rapidly before completing the 6 furlongs in a professional time of 1 minute, 9.54 seconds.
Trained by Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr. for owners Michael and Jeanne Fuhs, Joker's Touch was sent off as the 1.10-to-1 favorite in the Onate and returned $4.20 for each winning ticket.
With the win, Joker's Touch remains unblemished, with career earnings now at $25,270.
It was a long way back to third place finisher Mr. McCoy, with Indy's Rocket, Dandy Guy and Pie Town NM rounding out the order of finish.