FARMINGTON – A total of 12 stakes races for a purse total approaching $1.5 million will be on display today at Zia Park in Hobbs for the New Mexico Classic Cup.
The Day of racing will feature many of the best state-bred quarter horses and thoroughbreds in racing.
Among the highlighted races for quarter horses is the $280,000 New Mexico Classic Futurity, where Jess Cruzin On By will be looking to add a second stakes win to his already impressive resume for owner Yaneth Cabrera and trainer Juan Gonzalez.
Also featured on the card, which has a first post time of 12:15 p.m., is the $177,000 New Mexico Classic Derby, where father and son will put each other's training acumen to the test when Jason Giles sends out morning-line favorite Seeyalateralligator, while his father Wes Giles sends out Major Moonflash — the third choice on the morning line.
The state's best older shortliners will also be featured in the $170,000 Namehimastreaker Classic Quarter Horse Championship, which will go as the 11th race on the card.
Too Flash For You, last year's All American Derby winner and an earner of over $1 million, is the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite in the Championship, which will be run at 440 yards.
Owned by Jim and Michele Laird as well as Jose Espinoza, Too Flash For You is trained by Wes Giles. In addition to his All American Derby win, Major Moonflash earned a win in the Zia Handicap this year at Ruidoso Downs, as well as stakes wins at SunRay Park and Casino and Sunland Park.
In all, 125 horses are scheduled to compete in the 12-race card, which also features some of the state's leading thoroughbreds in the Classic Cup Sprint Championship. In the Championship, trainer Joel Marr will look to add another win to the already impressive career of That's Who, a 16-time winner from 33 lifetime starts.
A 6-year-old son of Quinton's Gold, That's Who has won four times from six starts at Zia Park for owners Sam and Latane Stevens. An earner of more than $770,000 in his career, That's Who is the lukewarm 7-to-2 morning-line favorite in the Sprint, which will be run at six furlongs and will go as the fifth race on the all-stakes program.
Horsemen and handicappers will have their hands full with plenty of decisions to make as far as selections and wagers are concerned, particularly in the richest race for thoroughbreds, the $18,000 Rocky Gulch Classic Cup Championship, which will be at a distance of one mile.
The 7-to-2 morning line favorite Mr Wizard is drawn unfavorably in the post position 11, the farthest outside slot. Jockey Miguel Fuentes will be forced to make a decision early to push Mr Wizard out of the gate early in order to clear the field and save ground down the backstretch, or allow him to drop off the lead, attempt to save ground early and have something left for the stretch drive.
Trained by Dallas Barton, Mr Wizard is a 10-time winner from 38 career starts and has earned more than $453,000 in his career.
The richest race of the day — the Futurity, which goes as the 10th race on the card — may be a procession for Jess Cruzin On By.
The 9-to-5 morning-line favorite was the fastest qualifier for the Futurity when trials were held on Oct. 17. His trial, which he won by a neck over Frank N Jesse, was timed in 19.48 seconds for 400 yards. Jess Cruzin On By will break from post nine in the 10-horse field and is scheduled to be ridden by Adrian Ramos.
His main rival appears to be Chickaloni, who was beaten by Jess Cruzin On By earlier this year in the New Mexico Spring Futurity at Sunland Park.
A three-time winner from seven starts, Chickaloni was the second fastest qualifier for the race, winning her trial in a final time of 19.57 seconds. She will break from post three under jockey Jose Ortiz.
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.