SUNLAND PARK — The best way to end a career in sports is as a champion.
That's exactly how Feature Mr. Bojangles will finish his career, after ending a 19-month, 11-race losing streak by posting a strong win in Sunday's $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Ridden for the first time in his career by Cody Jensen for trainer Paul Jones, Feature Mr. Bojangles broke smartly from his outside post in the Championship and appeared to get the lead in the final 100 yards before holding off the late rally of Feature Mr. Who to win the 400-yard dash by a long neck.
The result of the Championship ends a frustrating year for the connections of the Texas-bred son of Feature Mr. Jess, who has lost each of his four races this year by a neck or less, including narrow defeats to Championship rivals Prospect To The Top, Jess Cuervo and DM Streakn Thru Fire.
Feature Mr. Bojangles was the champion American Quarter Horse Association 2-year-old colt of 2011 after posting victories in both the Rainbow and Ruidoso Futurities at Ruidoso as well as the Zia Park Futurity. The last time he'd been in the winner's circle prior to Sunday's score was in a trial race for the Ruidoso Derby in May, 2012.
"He definitely had a perfect start from that outside post," said Jensen after the race. "I figured from that post, if he got out alright, he'd get a good trip."
Feature Mr. Bojangles ran the 400 yards in a final time of 19.61 seconds while being sent off as the 3-to-1 post-time favorite. He will be retired to active stallion duty, ending his career with eight wins from 20 lifetime starts and earnings topping $952,000.
Backers of Feature Mr. Bojangles at the betting windows were rewarded with an $8 return on their $2 investment.
Feature Mr. Who, drawn on the inside under jockey Esgar Ramirez, finished strongly along the rail for second, while DM Streakn Thru Fire and Jess Cuervo wound up in a dead-heat for third.
Behind them across the wire were Jess Featureme Quick, Hez Our Secret, Prospect To The Top, Jess Lips, Cold Cash 123 and First In Class DBS.