Breeders' Futurity trials highlight program

Steve Bortstein

A total of 31 horses were entered into four trial races today at SunRay Park and Casino, with the 10 fastest qualifiers set to make the starting gate for the Aug. 23 New Mexico Breeders' Futurity.

Those four races are among a number of highlights on a strong, all-quarter horse racing program set to begin at 3 p.m., which also features a massive carryover pool in one of the meet's most unique wagering opportunities.

Chickaloni, likely to be the shortest-priced favorite among the 31 starters in the four trial races, is a stakes-placed daughter of Jess A Chicks. She broke her maiden in her career debut on March 13 at Sunland Park before finishing third in the New Mexico Spring Futurity on April 5.

Listed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite and facing seven rivals in the fourth and final trial heat on today's program, Chickaloni is trained by Lori Chavez and is scheduled to be ridden by Esgar Ramirez. They will break from post 7 in the trial dash, all of which will be run at a distance of 350 yards.

The four trial heats will be run in races four through seven. The fastest qualifiers receive an automatic berth into the New Mexico Breeders' Futurity, one of the richest races run every year at SunRay. This Sunday, SunRay will play host to the $100,000 Four Corners Futurity, which is open to juveniles from all states. Trials for the Futurity were held last month.

The first of the four trial races features 5-to-2 morning line favorite Rg Miracle, a recent maiden winner over this course.

Trained by Ken Grisham and slated to be ridden by Albert Medrano, Rg Miracle is a son of Hearts Miracle who broke his maiden in his fourth career start.

Grisham has one of the strongest quarter horse barns in the colony this season, hitting at a nearly 50 percent win rate with over a dozen starters.

Rg Miracle, owned by Shirley Grisham, will break from post 5. His main rival appears to be James Merlot, also trained by Chavez and scheduled to be ridden by Ramirez. They will break from post 7.

The second trial heat is highlighted by another Grisham-trained hopeful, To Fast To Furious, listed as the 3-to-1 morning line favorite with jockey Martin Bourdieu aboard.

Owned by Hubaldo Solis, the son of Jesse James Jr., broke his maiden in his third career start on June 7 at the Downs at Albuquerque. Prior to that, he finished sixth in the aforementioned Spring Futurity behind Chickaloni and winner Jess Cruzin On By.

Trainer Wes Giles, who has five starters entered in Sunday's Four Corners Futurity, will also send out My Mojito in the second trial. Owned by Jill Giles, My Mojito finished third in his only career start on May 29 at Ruidoso Downs.

The third trial heat may be the most wide-open in the sequence, with 3-to-1 morning line favorite Wood Be A Bullet drawn on the rail in an eight-horse field.

Trained by Hemerio Hernandez and owned by the HWD Racing Stables, the son of Woodbridge broke his maiden in his second career start on June 12. However, the rail has been a negative post position in quarter horse racing much of this season.

Trainer Priscilla Leon may have the upsetter in the field, with Faster Than Jack listed at 7-to-1 on the morning line with Jose Enriquez aboard.

The recent maiden winner in his fourth career start and first race over this course, the son of First Moonflash has been racing at Turf Paradise in Phoenix with only moderate success earlier this year.

In addition to the trial races, today's card is also highlighted by an enormous carryover pool in the Super High Five Jackpot, a wager which requires bettors to correctly pick the first five finishers in the ninth and final race on the card.

The Super High Five Jackpot features a starting pool of over $6,100 after no one was able to win the wager over the past four racing days. The ninth and final race on today's card is an 870-yard claiming event for older horses. The morning line favorite in the race is Apollos First Down, who is looking to end a seven-race losing streak dating back to Aug 29, 2014.

Trained by Jesus Carrete and scheduled to be ridden by Daniel Amaya, Apollos First Down will break from post 5 in the race. He will do his best running late in the race.

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 comes in the seventh race, in which he likes No. 7 Chickaloni, who appears to hold a significant class edge in the fourth and final trial heat.

Bortstein's best bet comes in the second race, where he likes No. 2 Little Reba Corona, who ran very well coming back from a long layoff and retains one of the meet's top quarter horse riders.

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.