Wyatt rallies to score at Sunray Park and Casino
FARMINGTON — Taking advantage of a fast early pace, jockey Pedro Benitez rode Wyatt to a late-running victory in Saturday's featured race at Sunray Park and Casino.
In front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 spectators, Wyatt was last early in the 6 1-2 furlong allowance/optional claiming race. Benitez swung him around the leaders entering the lane, quickly passing them before drawing off to a near-3 length victory.
Earning his fifth win from 17 career starts, Wyatt snapped a four-race losing streak while winning for the first time in four starts this year. The lion's share of the purse from today's race increases his total bankroll to nearly $67,000.
Wyatt, sent off as the 2.60-to-1 third choice in the field of five, came home in one minute, 18.12 seconds and returned $7.20 to his winning backers.
Quinton's Who, the post-time favorite ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr., narrowly held onto second over Anziyan Nights. They were followed by Java Bird and Hunting Dixie.
The morning line favorite Desert Jack was scratched earlier in the day.
On the day, Juarez won three races, including two for Evans. The Juarez/Evans tandem won the fifth race with Lee's Gold as well, as the ninth and final aboard Afleet Echo.
Juarez teamed up with trainer Bob Cappellucci in the seventh race aboard You And Who.
Cappellucci also won the third race with jockey Isaias Enriquez aboard Trust Emily.
Today at Sunray
Sunburst Stakes winner Regal First Moon has been installed as the 2-to-1 morning line favorite for today's $50,000 New Mexico Breeders' Stakes. This race will be the eighth and featured event of a nine-race program that has a first post time of 1:30 p.m.
Owned by the Regal Racing Stables, trained by Ramon Rivera and slated to be ridden by Jesse Levario, Regal First Moon is looking for her third straight win. Prior to winning the Sunburst Stakes at Sunland Park on March 24, the three-year-old daughter of First Moonflash beat allowance company in her first start of 2015.
A field of seven will go to the post in the Breeders' Stakes, to be run at 400 yards. Regal First Moon will break from post 3, while one of her main rivals, Officer Moonflash, will break to her outside in post 4.
Officer Moonflash is looking to end a three-race losing streak for trainer J. R. Gonzalez Sr. The son of First Moonflash was third in the New Mexico Horsemens and Breeders Association Stakes at Sunland earlier this year, but has finished off the board in his most recent pair of starts.
He will be ridden by Sergio Becerra Jr.
The New Mexico Breeders' Stakes is scheduled to go at 4:18 p.m. during a busy day of racing. The day will also feature the live simulcast of the Grade 1, $1.75 million Haskell Invitational from Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N. J.
The Haskell marks the return of American Pharoah, this year's Triple Crown hero and the first horse to sweep the series since Affirmed in 1978. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Haskell Invitational seven times, most recently last year with Bayern.
Plays of the day
Each day during the current racing season, Sunray Park track announcer Eric Alwan and paddock show host Steve Bortstein offer their best bets for that day's program.
Alwan's best bet is in the eighth race, where he likes the favorite Regal First Moon, who is looking for her third atraight win.
Bortstein's best bet is in the fourth race at 4 1-2 furlongs, where he likes No. 3 Silca Sheets, who ran a much better-than-looked effort last time out and retains one of the meet's hottest riders in Alejandro Medellin.
Steve Bortstein hosts "First Sports" and "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 AM and 93.9 FM and on iHeartRadio. He serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park & Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Follow him @fox1340am on Twitter.