Horse racing: There are plenty of highlights for this weekend's busy race schedule
FARMINGTON — The eyes of horse racing will be focused on New Mexico this weekend as Ruidoso Downs will be hosting both the Rainbow Derby and Futurity, while the $35,000 Marathon Handicap will headline racing at Sunray Park Sunday.
The nation's top 3-year-old quarter horses will go postward Saturday at Ruidoso Downs in the $900,000 Rainbow Derby, which multiple stakes winner Kiss My Hocks enters as the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite in a field of 10 for the 440-yard race.
Kiss My Hocks, a winner in last year's Sam Houston Futurity in Texas — as well as the Ruidoso Futurity as a 2-year-old — was an impressive qualifier for the Rainbow Derby when trials were held on July 5.
Owned by Conda Maze and Tyler Graham, and trained by Toby Keeton, Kiss My Hocks has earned nearly $695,000 in his nine-race career. The son of Tempting Dash will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey G.R. Carter.
Kiss My Hocks won his trial by two lengths in a final time of 21.31 seconds, picking up his seventh career win in the process. He will break from post three.
Bodacious Eagle was the fastest qualifier for the Rainbow Derby, winning his trial race under Ricky Ramirez in a time of 21.12 seconds. Trainer Blane Wood will start both Bodacious Eagle and Sam Crow in the Derby. Ramirez will ride Sam Crow while Cody Jensen will get the call aboard Bodacious Eagle.
Owned by Johnny Trotter, Bodacious Eagle has won four times from nine lifetime starts. Despite amassing earnings of more than $324,000, the son of One Famous Eagle has yet to win a stakes race. Bodacious Eagle will break from post six.
Sam Crow drew the outside post in Saturday's Rainbow Derby, which will go as the 10th race on the card and is scheduled to post at 4:54 p.m.
Like his stablemate, Sam Crow is looking for his first stakes win. The son of Valiant Hero has won five times from nine career starts with earnings more than $245,000, and has been made the second choice on the morning line with 3-to-1 odds.
Sunday's Rainbow Futurity, with a purse of $1 million, will be highlighted by First Valiant Sign, winner of last month's Rudioso Futurity and still in the running for the All-American Triple Crown. The All-American Triple Crown goes to the 2-year-old that wins the Ruidoso, Rainbow and All American Futurities in the same season.
First Valiant Sign will break from post position four with G.R. Carter aboard. He has been installed as the 3-to-1 morning-line favorite in the 400-yard dash.
The third week of the current racing season at Sunray Park and Casino gets started today with an all-quarter horse program set for 3 p.m.
On Sunday, Alsono is likely to be sent off as the post-time favorite in the $35,000 Marathon Handicap for trainer Justin Evans, currently the leading barn this season.
Alsono, last year's winner of the Sunray Park and Casino Handicap in his only start over the course, will be looking for his third win in his last four starts during the 870-yard Marathon.
A Kentucky-bred son of Limehouse, Alsono has earned more than $261,000 for owner Tony Pennington while winning eight times from 19 starts. He's a multiple stakes winner at distances ranging from today's dash up to a mile.
Alsono will break from post two under Alfredo Juarez Jr. in the eight-horse Marathon Handicap.
Plays of the day
Each day during the live racing season at Sunray Park and Casino, track announcer Eric Alwan and paddock show host Steve Bortstein offer their best bets of the day.
Alwan's best bet comes in today's fifth race, where he likes No. 6 Aka Bugga. A romping maiden winner at the Downs at Albuquerque last time out, the son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon appears to be sitting on an another big effort in this 350-yard allowance dash.
Bortstein's best bet comes in today's eighth race, a 400-yard allowance sprint. Bortstein likes No. 5 Boppin Bayou, who ran well coming back from a long layoff last time out and comes from a hot barn at the local course.
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.