FARMINGTON — Ending a four-race losing streak might have been just as easy as returning to a preferred racing surface.
Toss in some 40-mile per hour winds and rapidly dropping temperatures and you had all the makings for a big win by That's Who in Saturday's $45,000 Jack Cole Handicap at SunRay Park and Casino.
Braving a stiff headwind that played havoc for horses, jockeys and a crowd of over 750 fans all day long, Alfredo Juarez, Jr., used a perfect stalk-and-pounce trip aboard the Joel Marr-trained son of Quinton's Gold to wrestle the lead away from longshot Anziger on the far turn, then held off favored Mr. Wizard in deep stretch to win the Cole by just under a length.
That's Who, a winner in four of five starts over the SunRay oval, ran the mile in 1:36.84 and ended a losing streak that had gone on for nearly six months.
On a racing day that started out with temperatures in the 60's, the afternoon quickly grew colder, with intermittent showers and a stiff headwind that rarely relented.
"When you come onto the backstretch, the winds really affect you," Juarez said after the race. "The dust gets in your face and the cold wind really bites you."
Juarez, who sat close to the pace throughout aboard That's Who, took advantage of moderate fractions set by Anziger on the lead, who ran the first half-mile in 47.08 seconds. Sent off as the second choice in the wagering at odds of 17-10, That's Who raced alongside the leader on the far turn and began to inch clear at the top of the lane.
Sent off as the 11-10 post-time favorite, Mr. Wizard may have been left with too much to do under jockey Dusty Shepherd and considering the conditions. The son of Premeditation, who raced midpack early, rallied to pick up the place and was well clear of Anziger across the wire.
"I could hear him (Mr. Wizard) coming after me in the stretch," Juarez said. "I was lucky we still had something left."
Owned by Sam and Latane Stevens, That's Who earned his 13th career win from 24 lifetime starts, padding his lifetime earnings to over $548,000. A winner of last year's Land Of Enchantment Stakes at Ruidoso Downs last July, That's Who also got bragging rights over Mr. Wizard, who had gotten the better of him in each of their last three meetings.
That's Who returned $5.40 to each of his backers at the windows. Following Anziger across the wire were E Bar Way, Mist Ter Noble, Spinning Touch and Gotta Move. Playin Tough was scratched earlier in the day.
The victory aboard That's Who was one of three on the day for Juarez, who also won the fifth race aboard Magnificent Day for trainer Dick Cappelucci, then came back and won the sixth race aboard Golden Emblazon for trainer Brent Elston.
Senora Stakes Appears Wide Open
A field of eight well-matched older fillies and mares bred in New Mexico will race 400 yards in the $45,000 Four Corners Senora Stakes today at SunRay Park and Casino, with another nine-race program set to begin at 1:30 p.m.
Sandys Jesse, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, will be looking to snap a seven-race losing streak when she goes to the gate for trainer H.A. Orozco and jockey Esgar Ramirez.
A daughter of Jesse James Jr, Sandys Jesse has earned more than $210,000 in her 18-race career, but hasn't been in the winners' circle since the Sunburst Stakes at Sunland Park just over a year ago.
Owned by Chin S. Lee and bred in New Mexico at the Mj Farms, Sandys Jesse will break from post No. 5 in the Senora, which will go as the eighth race on the card and has a scheduled post time of 4:18 p.m.
Back in with more favorable company might be WDC Wendys Wine, the second choice on the morning line, who was last seen taking on males in the Grade 2 Championship Challenge at Sunland Park earlier this month.
Owned and trained by Alonso Aranda, this will be the first time in 2014 that WDC Wendys Wine will be facing both other fillies and mares as well as state-bred competition. A winner in four of 23 career starts, the daughter of Woodbridge cuts back a little in distance under jockey L. Salvador Martinez and may appreciate the slight drop in class.
The Senora field, from the rail out, with riders and morning line prices, lines up like this: Lady Secret Dash, Raul Gutierrez, 8-1; Ofashionsoutherngirl, Porfirio Cano, 7-2; Me Tuff, Adrian Ramos, 20-1; WDC Wendys Wine, Martinez, 3-1; Sandys Jesse, Ramirez, 5-2; Little Miss Kona, Alejandro Medellin, 12-1; Little Bit Southern, Daniel Amaya, 9-2; Mess Can, Alonso Rivera, 10-1.