Bloomfield trainer Chip Woolley sends popular choice to gate in Sunland Park stakes

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times
  • Bold Ego Handicap one of two stakes races on Sunday's card at Sunland Park
  • Harking will be ridden by jockey Enrique Gomez

FARMINGTON — A field of seven older fillies and mares are set to go into the starting gate for Sunday's $65,000 Bold Ego Handicap, the co-featured event on a nine-race card of quarter horse and thoroughbred racing at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino near El Paso, Texas.

Harking, trained by Bloomfield's Chip Woolley, is the 3-to-1 second choice on the morning line in the 5 1/2 furlong race, which will go as the seventh race with a scheduled post time of 3:04 p.m.

Woolley, best known as trainer of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, is one of the top thoroughbred trainers in the state of New Mexico and currently among the top 10 trainers at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona.

Previously:Live racing set to return at Sunland Park after 21-month hiatus

Trainer Chip Woolley (right) celebrates with jockey Calvin Borel after winning the 2009 Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird

Harking races for Colorado-based owner Edward Hindman and will be ridden by jockey Enrique Gomez.

A seven-time winner from 18 career starts, Harking has earned more than $161,000 for her connections. The 7-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Dominus was most recently second against allowance competition at Turf Paradise on Dec. 22, 2021.

Prior to that, Harking was third in the Jeff and Jack Coady Stakes on Nov. 6. Harking was looking to defend her title in the stakes race, which she had captured last January.

More:How one tiny horse at Turf Paradise came to lead all of North America in victories

Harking will break from post two in the 29th running of the Bold Ego Handicap, with Five Pics Please, breaking from post six under jockey Karlo Lopez listed as the 2-to-1 morning line favorite.

Harking, shown here winning the Jeff and Jack Coady Stakes at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona on Jan. 5, 2021 is the 3-to-1 second choice on the morning line for Sunday's Bold Ego Handicap at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Five Pics Please, most recently a close second as the even-money favorite in the Sun Devil Sprint Stakes at Turf Paradise on Dec. 16, races for trainer Robertino Diodoro and Phoenix-based owners Desert Sun Stables.

Diodoro, currently second in the Turf Paradise trainer standings behind Justin Evans, will be sending out his first stakes runner of the Sunland Park season.

More:Some local horsemen get back to the track as live racing returns to Albuquerque Downs

In addition to his mount aboard Harking, Gomez can have quite a day in the saddle as he will be aboard likely contenders in both stakes races on the Sunday card.

In addition to the Bold Ego Handicap, Sunday's program is also highlighted by the 21st edition of the $100,000 Corralito Steak House Stakes, set to go as the eighth race on the program.

The Corralito Steak House Stakes is for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old thoroughbreds racing six furlongs. The field of 11 is headed by Wheres Brayden, the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite and two-time stakes winner.

Owned by R. Dwain Yarber and trained by Greg Green, Wheres Brayden is coming off back-to-back stakes wins at Zia Park in Hobbs. 

More:Instygator wins Grade 1, 440-yard Championship on opening weekend at Sunland Park

The son of Artful Run won the New Mexico Classic Cup Juvenile Championship Stakes on Oct. 31 and then scored a convincing win in the Steve Prather Stakes on Dec. 13. 

Wheres Brayden has earned more than $168,000 for his connections and will break from the outside post in the race, which has a scheduled post time of 3:31 p.m.

Fans can watch and wager on the races from Sunland Park locally in the simulcast theater at SunRay Park and Casino.

Colby James (4), ridden by Ricky Ramirez, wins the $100,000 Red or Green Stakes at Sunland Park Racetrack, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.

Colby James wins Red or Green Stakes 

Hall of Fame rider Ricky Ramirez showed why he is regarded as one of the all-time greats Saturday, guiding Colby James to an impressive win in the $100,000 Red or Green Stakes at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Despite a bit of a slow break, Ramirez got busy early aboard Colby James, rushing up between rivals to get into contention and staying aggressive down the stretch, posting a half-length victory over 33-to-1 longshot Perrys Regard.

Colby James, owned by Rex Wells and trained by James Gonzalez III, earned his seventh win from 17 career starts, racing the 400 yards on a fast track in a final time of 19.35 seconds, earning an Equibase Speed Index figure of 103.

Colby James was coming into the Red or Green Stakes off a disappointing effort at Lone Star Park last time out, finishing ninth over a sloppy racetrack in the Grade 1 Refrigerator Invitational. Prior to that, the New Mexico-bred son of Jesse James Jr was a close second in the Grade 1 Namehimastreaker New Mexico Classic Championship Stakes on Oct. 31 at Zia Park.

Sent off as the third choice in the wagering at odds of 2.80-to-1, Colby James returned $7.60 to his winning backers. The $2 exacta with runner-up Perrys Regard returned a healthy $207.40.

Saturday's victory adds $60,000 to the bankroll for Colby James, who has earned over $490,000 in his lifetime. Bigg Dee finished third, just ahead of Fly On Down to round out the top four.

Morning line and 2-to-1 post time favorite Marcus Medallion was eliminated shortly after the start when forced to take back between horses under jockey Adrian Ramos and was never a factor.

Fincher-trained duo run 1-2 in Corralito

Bye Bye Matty P (7), ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., gets his nose down on the wire ahead of Massive Roar in the $100,000 Corralito Steak House Stakes at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022.

Todd Fincher held a strong hand in Sunday's 21st edition of the $100,000 Corralito Steak House Stakes, one of two stakes races on the card at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

One of the leading trainers in the state of New Mexico, Fincher proved best and second best with Bye Bye Matty P and jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr. narrowly prevailing over stablemate Massive Roar and jockey Roimes Chirinos.

Bye Bye Matty P, prominent throughout the sprint, dueled for the early lead with Massive Roar before that one kicked clear midway through the far turn after a half mile time of 44.68 seconds.

Juarez got busy aboard the New Mexico-bred son of Attila's Storm midway down the stretch, getting a nose in front at the finish line, running the 6 furlongs in 1:09.75.

Sent off as the 3-to-2 second choice, Bye Bye Matty P returned $5 to his winning backers.

Bye Bye Matty P is a three-time winner from five career starts. He broke his maiden and earned a stakes win in his debut start last April at SunRay Park and Casino, winning the Ken Kendrick Memorial Stakes. He most recently scored an allowance win for owners B4 Farms, LLC out of Abilene, Texas.

Sunday's win pads the bankroll for Bye Bye Matty P to more than $124,000.

Massive Roar settled for second as the Fincher-trained $2 exacta returned $53.40.

Post time favorite Wheres Brayden was up close to the pace early but never threatened the top pair, finishing third under jockey Enrique Gomez with Reads Pet Zenon rounding out the top four finishers.

Count Them Again earns DQ win in Bold Ego Handicap

Count Them Again, shown here winning the Russell and Helen Foutz Distaff Handicap at SunRay Park and Casino, Saturday, April 19, 2021.

In Sunday's co-featured 29th running of the Bold Ego Handicap, Count Them Again, who was forced to race from well off the early pace after a troubled start, rallied down the stretch and earned a win via disqualification.

The first-place finisher and post time favorite Five Pics Please was disqualified by the stewards for interference shortly after the start. Five Pics Please and jockey Karlo Lopez, who broke next to Count Them Again in the starting gate, crossed over into her path, forcing jockey Erick Medellin to take up sharply moments after the start.

Count Them Again, after that tardy beginning, began her rally into the far turn of the 5 1/2 furlong sprint and was making up ground with every stride, finishing second just a nose behind Five Pics Please.

After a lengthy review by the stewards, the decision was made to change the order of finish, which resulted in Count Them Again, sent off at odds of 17.40-to-1 to be named the official winner, returning $36.80 to her winning backers.

Five Pics Please was placed second by the stewards, resulting in a healthy $2 exacta payoff of $114.60.

Owned by Lola and Alexandria Cuellar and trained by Raul Vega, Count Them Again snapped a three-race losing streak which included a pair of second place finishes last summer in the Lincoln Handicap at Ruidoso Downs and the Carlos Salazar Handicap at Albuquerque Downs.

The New Mexico-bred daughter of Premeditation earned her last win at SunRay Park and Casino, where she won the Foutz Distaff Handicap last April.

Count Them Again has nine career wins from 16 starts with lifetime earnings topping $367,000.

Five Pics Please, who was sent off as the 4-to-5 post time favorite, had the lead from the start of the Bold Ego Handicap, dueling with Harking through an early fast quarter mile of 21.8 seconds. Five Pics Please appeared to put away her competition at the head of the stretch but was nearly caught in the shadow of the wire by Count Them Again.

Five Pics Please ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in a final time of 1:02.79 seconds.

Flyin Falynn and Harking rounded out the top four finishers.

Live racing resumes on Tuesday with a first post time of 12:25 p.m.