Pair of quarter horse futurities headline stakes action this weekend at SunRay
FARMINGTON — A pair of rich quarter horse futurities on Sunday headline a strong weekend of live horse racing at SunRay Park and Casino.
On Saturday, fans can watch and wager on the second jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown as well as a strong local card, headlined by the $75,000 Toni Samora Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares.
Here's a look at the weekend stakes action.
New Mexico Breeders' Futurity draws 12
Sherree Meridyth's Sheza Ahotmess was the fastest qualifier for Sunday's $120,000-added New Mexico Breeders' Futurity, one of two big stakes races for freshman quarter horses set for Sunday at SunRay Park and Casino.
The daughter of First Moonflash, trained by Guadalupe Munoz, Jr., earned her second career win on May 6 when she burst clear from her rivals for a 1 3/4 length win in one of seven trials for the race, which is reserved for quarter horses bred in the state.
Her final time of 17.46 seconds for the 350 yards was the fastest of the qualifying times, earning her a spot in the starting gate for the richest race of the SunRay Park season.
Sheza Ahotmess already has some stakes experiences, finishing fifth in the $313,000 New Mexican Spring Futurity at Sunland Park last month. Her trial victory in her most recent start increased her lifetime earnings to more than $24,000.
Scheduled to be ridden by her regular pilot Gerardo Vera, Sheza Ahotmess drew the rail and has been installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in the New Mexico Breeders' Futurity, which will go as the ninth race on the Sunday card, with a scheduled post time of 5:27 p.m.
One of her main rivals in the New Mexico Breeders' Futurity will be Major Game, a stakes placed son of Gronkowski, who drew post 10 for the 350-yard event.
Major Game won his trial race by a length in a final time of 17.62 seconds, and has also won twice from three career starts for owners Jaime Perez, Andres Estrada, and J. Santos Espinoza.
Trained by Eric Valenzuela, Major Game's career record includes a third-place finish in the New Mexican Spring Futurity. He has earnings topping $43,000 and will break from post 10 under jockey Sergio Becerra Jr. as the 4-to-1 third choice on the morning line.
Four Corners Futurity attracts full field
Just prior to the running of Sunday's New Mexico Breeders' Futurity, a full field of 10 will reach the starting gate for the $75,000-added Grade 3 Four Corners Futurity, which features juvenile quarter horses from across the country.
Osman Iturralde's Lake Havasu earned the role of fastest qualifier for the Four Corners Futurity when he won his trial race on May 6, outfinishing runner-up Mr Red White N Blue by a head in a final time of 17.6 seconds
The California-bred son of Seperate Interest drew post eight in the Four Corners Futurity and will be ridden once again by jockey Omar Iturralde. Lake Havasu has been installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite.
The Four Corners Futurity will be run as the eighth race on Sunday's card and has a scheduled post time of 5:03 p.m.
A complete look at the fields for both the New Mexico Breeders' Futurity and the Four Corners Futurity can be found online at Equibase.com
Samora Memorial Stakes headlines Saturday racing
A field of six older fillies and mares head into the starting gate for Saturday's $75,000 Toni Samora Memorial Stakes, part of a busy 11-race program that has an early first post time of 12:30 p.m.
Samuel Henderson's Cleopatras Charge, who scored one of the biggest racing upsets of the Sunland Park season when she won the Sunland Park Oaks on March 27, has been installed as the 2-to-1 morning line favorite for the Samora Handicap, slated for 6 1/2 furlongs.
The Kentucky-bred filly by Will Take Charge won the Oaks at odds of 79-to-1 under jockey Jorge Carreno two starts back, but failed to fire in her most recent start on May 7 at SunRay, when she finished sixth in an allowance race, beating only one horse.
Trained by Gary Cross and slated to be ridden Saturday by Joree Scriver, Cleopatras Charge has won twice from seven career starts and has earnings topping $195,000. She will break from post two in the Samora, which will be run as the tenth race at approximately 4:06 p.m.
Miss Important, a nine-time winner from 26 starts, is the 3-to-1 second choice in the Samora, coming off a pair of third-place efforts in her most recent starts at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.
Prior to that, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Graydar won the $20,000 DeFazio Stakes at Rillito Park in Tucson for her second win this year.
Trained by Billy Christian, Miss Important will break from post five in the Samora under jockey Kelsi Purcell.
Saturday's live racing also includes simulcasting of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, from Baltimore. Epicenter, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, is the morning line favorite for the Preakness Stakes.
A complete look at the Saturday racing program can be found online at Equibase.com
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.