FARMINGTON — Mr. Wizard, a winner of three straight races for trainer Dallas Barton, including a romping five-length score in the New Mexico State University Handicap last month at Sunland Park, figures to be an overwhelming favorite when he takes on seven state-bred rivals in today's $45,000 Jack Cole Handicap at SunRay Park & Casino.
Owned by W.D. and M.H. Carson, as well as Bill Leach and Roger Beasley and bred in New Mexico by Mike and Suzanne Carson, Mr. Wizard will be looking to add to his already impressive resume, which includes eight wins from 30 career starts, including wins in the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap last December at Sunland Park as well as the New Mexico Classic Cup last October at Zia Park.
Mr. Wizard, a 5-year-old gelded son of Premeditation has only lost once in his last five starts. That day, sent off as the mild favorite in the six and one-half furlong Johnnie L Jamison Handicap at Sunland Park, Mr. Wizard lost all chance at the start and wound up finishing eighth.
He has never sprinting since that race.
Mr. Wizard will be looking to pad his career earnings to over $400,000 by finishing either first or second in the Cole Handicap.
Listed at 5-2 on the morning line, Mr. Wizard will be ridden by Dusty Shepherd, who will break from post No. 2 in the one-mile Cole Handicap, which will go as the eighth race of a strong card that begins at 1:30 p.m.
The chief rival for Mr. Wizard may well be That's Who, the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
Trained by Joel Marr and slated to be ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., That's Who is a three-time winner over the local course. He also had the edge over Mr. Wizard twice last summer at Ruidoso Downs. Of late, though, That's Who has been chasing the aforementioned favorite in each of their last three meetings.
Owned and bred by Sam and Latane Stevens, the son of Quinton's Gold, winless since Sept. 9, will break from post No. 6.
Looking to spring an upset in the Cole Handicap is Playin Tough, drawn in the outside post position for trainer J.R. Gonzalez, Jr. and slated to be ridden by Alejandro Medellin.
Though winless in each of his last seven starts, he did encounter trouble in a couple of those races. The son of Touchdown Ky does get a favorable pace scenario in his favor and could come running on late.
Owned and bred by Michael and Jeanne Fuhs, Playin Tough is listed as the fourth choice on the morning line at 9-2.
Post time for the Cole Handicap is slated for 4:18 p.m.
Cadena, Giles both have big days
Trainers Emilio Cadena, Jr. and Wes Giles both had big days on Friday at SunRay Park.
Cadena teamed up with rider Esgar Ramirez to win three races on the card, while Giles paired up with jockey Larry Gamez to take two races.
Cadena and Ramirez scored with Rimein N Singin in the second race, then took races five and six with Three Wild Dreams and James D Man, respectively.
The team of Giles and Gamez scored in the fourth race Westernshines, then again in the seventh race with Marvelous Dame.