FARMINGTON — It may not have been the cleanest of getaways, but it didn't matter at the finish line as Design Tobe A Winner overcame a bit of a messy start to prove an impressive upset winner of Sunday's $35,000 Animas Quarter Horse Stakes at SunRay Park & Casino.
The 3-year-old filly by Winners Version broke in a bit of a tangle alongside Winter Haven, but recovered quickly to assume the lead just a few jumps after the start of the 400-yard event. Jockey Larry Gamez held off the late rally of Jess Sandy Jr to prevail by a diminishing neck.
Design Tobe A Winner, sent off as the second longest shot on the board at odds of 9.8-1, picked up her first stakes win and third victory from nine lifetime starts. Bred in Colorado by Russell Vicchrilli, Design Tobe A Winner is owned by James Lynn and trained by Wes Giles. Her victory was worth $21,000 to the winning connections, which increases her lifetime earnings to nearly $41,000.
Prior to her win Sunday in the Animas, Design Tobe A Winner was ninth in a field of 10 runners last month in the West Texas Derby at Sunland Park. Her last win came against claiming company at Sunland Park on Feb. 21.
"She didn't get away all that well, but once she found her stride, she went right to the front," Gamez said. "Thankfully, she had just enough left to get there."
Design Tobe A Winner ran the 400 yards in a fast final time of 19.35 seconds, just one-fifth of a second off the course record. Her winning backers among the crowd of over 800 spectators were rewarded with a return of $21.60 for their $2 investment.
Jess Sandy Jr, sent off as 2.20-1 favorite under jockey Manuel Gutierrez, was more than a length clear of the field when finishing second. Behind that one across the wire were This Lady Is On Fire, Frans Hero, Famous Edge Of Glory, WR Golden Eagle and Winter Haven. Blazin Lonzo was scratched earlier in the day.
On the day, jockey Elvin Gonzalez made a bit of history at SunRay Park & Casino, winning on all five of his mounts, including four races in successive order.
Gonzalez scored aboard Runawayrick in Sunday's fourth race for trainer Dominic Duree, then came back to win aboard the Justin Evans-trained Contend in the fifth race.
Evans and Gonzalez teamed up twice more on the day, with wins for Mucho Macho Uno in the sixth race and Major Affair in the nightcap.
In between those wins, Gonzalez also won the seventh race on the card, scoring with 29.8-1 longshot Spring Melody in the seventh race for trainer Kathleen Tohill.
Gonzalez has clearly assumed the role of leading rider after the first three days of the live season. He has seven wins from 13 mounts, with five of those wins coming from Evans' barn, currently the leading trainer after the first weekend.
Racing resumes Tuesday at SunRay Park and Casino, with first post at 1:30 p.m.