Wr Jessie earns fastest time
FARMINGTON — Wr Jessie, owned by local racing matriarch Rose Webb, proved to be the fastest qualifier, and likely the post-time favorite for the New Mexico Breeders' Futurity following trial races Friday at Sunray Park and Casino.
In four separate trial races, 31 horses went to the starting gate for 350-yard dashes to determine the 10 fastest New Mexico-bred qualifiers for the Futurity on August 23.
The first of the four trials turned out to be the fastest, with Wr Jessie, trained by Wes Giles and ridden by Martin Bourdieu, scoring a sharp, one-length victory over heavily favored Rg Miracle in a quick time of 17.426 seconds.
Wr Jessie's final time withstood the next three trials, and the 2-year-old filly will be one of two Giles-trained starters in the Futurity, which will be one of the richest races of the season.
Giles will also be represented by My Mojito, who finished second in his trial race, though he was no threat to the winner, Winners Rule. Winners Rule dominated in the second trial, winning by one-and-a-half lengths and earning the third-fastest qualifying time of 17.543 seconds.
The big winner on the day might have been trainer Ken Grisham, who despite not saddling a winner among the four trial dashes, did qualify three runners, Rg Miracle, Shes a Blazin Winner and A Blazin Flash.
Rg Miracle, owned by Shirley Grisham, has finished no worse than second in five lifetime starts. The son of Hearts Miracle broke his maiden over this course earlier this season.
Shes a Blazin Winner, third-place finisher in the first trial, is still looking for her first win after five career starts. The daughter of Winners Version has finished third on four occasions in her career.
A Blazin Flash, second-place finisher behind a fast-closing Chickaloni in the final trial heat of the day, is also seeking his first career win. The son of Chicks A Blazin has run well in each of his four career starts, but ran into a buzzsaw on Friday when Chickaloni turned in one of the most visually impressive runs this season.
Chickaloni, the seventh-fastest qualifier for the Futurity, did things the hard way under jockey Esgar Ramirez. Breaking slow from the gate, Chickaloni rallied and got up in time to win by a neck, earning a qualifying time of 17.776 seconds.
Chickaloni has won twice from three career starts. The only loss suffered by the daughter of Jess A Chicks was a third-place last April in the New Mexico Spring Futurity at Sunland Park in El Paso, Texas.
Chickaloni was making her first start in 124 days, and might be sitting on another big effort based on her late-running victory.
Wood Be A Bullet, winner of the third trial race of the day for trainer Hemerio Hernandez, was visually impressive with the second-fastest time -- 17.495 seconds -- of the day.
The son of Woodbridge broke quickly from his inside post, opened up a commanding lead early and dominated his rivals despite drifting out to the center of the track down the lane.
Bourdieu, who rode four winners on the Friday card, guided Wood Be A Bullet home to the easy victory.
One of the nation's leading quarter horse riders, Bourdieu will have to choose between Wr Jessie and Wood Be A Bullet, the two fastest qualifiers for the Futurity.
On tap today
No one hit Friday's massive Super High Five Jackpot pool, so the five-day carryover reaches a total of $7,776 for today's difficult wager.
The object of the Super High Five is to correctly tab the first five finishers in the day's final race. Over the past few days, the goal has proven elusive to bettors.
Today's ninth race is another puzzler, a $5,000 thoroughbred claiming sprint with a field of nine older fillies and mares racing four-and-a-half furlongs.
Prior to that race, the featured event on today's card, which has a first post time of 1:30 p.m., is the $30,000 Dr. O. G. Fischer Memorial Handicap, featuring a field of six older fillies and mares racing seven furlongs.
The 2-to-1 morning-line favorite Prettypriceygal, is looking to bounce back after a third place finish in the Albuquerque Distaff Handicap last time out. Trained by Justin Evans and slated to be ridden by Enrique Gomez, Prettypriceygal will break from the outside post and will do her best running from off the pace.
The featured event on the card has a scheduled post time of 4:18 p.m., with the final race set to go at 4:42 p.m.
Play 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 card.
Alwan's best bet comes in the seventh race, where he likes No. 4 Be My Angel, who is looking to end a long losing streak over the only course where she's ever won.
Bortstein's best bet comes in the sixth race, where he likes No. 4 Spanish Gladiator. Trainer Bart Hone excels with his second-time starters and this one is coming off a solid debut performance.
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.