‘Issues holds strong hand in Burner Handicap
SUNLAND PARK — There may be a sense of déjà vu all over again Saturday when Jess Got Issues lines up in the starting gate as the likely post-time favorite in the $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap, one of two stakes events on a strong program of live racing at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Trained by Guadalupe Munoz Jr., Jess Got Issues was a winner when he last raced at Sunland Park on March 28. There he took the Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap under jockey Jaime Leos.
That day, much like Saturday, Jess Got Issues broke from the 10 post and beat two of the nine rivals he’ll be facing in the 400-yard tussle, which will be run as the third race of a nine-race card.
Jess Got Issues has already won twice from five starts over the course and should be considered one of the major contenders in the Burner Memorial, which has a scheduled post time of 1:35 p.m.
A seven-time winner from 18 career starts, Jess Got Issues has amassed earnings over $257,000. In addition to the Mesilla Valley Handicap, the five-year-old son of Jesse James Jr. comes into this race off a strong second-place finish in the New Mexico Classic Cup Championship at Zia Park, where he lost by a neck to Cinco Menudos.
Listed as the morning-line choice at odds of 5-to-2, Jess Got Issues will be ridden today by Ricky Ramirez.
Major Moonflash could easily be considered the one to beat in the Burner for trainer Jason Giles. The son of First Moonflash scored a daylight win in the New Mexico Classic Derby at Zia Park for owners Pierre and Leslie Amestoy last month before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Zia Park Championship, beaten only a length to last year’s World Quarter Horse Champion Jrc Callas First.
Adrian Ramos rides Major Moonflash from post 6 as the 4-to-1 second choice on the morning line.
The top money-earner in the field is Osbaldo, trained by Ken Grisham and coming off a gate-to-wire win against open allowance company last time out at Zia Park.
Owned by Hubaldo Solis, Osbaldo has won 10 times from 33 starts and has earned nearly $358,000. The six-year-old statebred has only one win from his last 13 starts, but has scored three times from nine starts over this course.
Osbaldo will be ridden by Ivan Carnero and is listed at 6-to-1 on the morning line.
In addition to the Burner, Sunland Park will also feature the $50,000 KLAQ Handicap, for older thoroughbreds racing five furlongs.
Wine Police is the 3-to-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s KLAQ. The son of Speightstown was runner-up in this race last year. Now in the barn of trainer Henry Dominguez, the Kentucky-bred seven-year-old was badly beaten last time out in the Zia Park Sprint.
Owned by J. Kirk & Judy Robison, Wine Police has eight wins from 25 starts with earnings topping $506,000. Last year, he picked up two stakes wins at Zia Park.
Wine Police will be ridden by Enrique Gomez and will break from post 2 in the eight-horse field.Trainer Justin Evans appears to hold a strong hand in the KLAQ, which goes as the last race of the day with a post time of 4:10 p.m.
Alsono, listed at 5-to-1 on the morning line, has an affinity for Sunland Park. The four-year-old son of Limehouse has two wins in six starts at Sunland. In 2014, he was third in the Riley Allison Derby.
Alsono has eight lifetime wins from 20 starts and will break from post 4 under last season’s leading thoroughbred rider Ry Eikleberry.
Evans also likely will be sending out Caminetto and Redneck Humor in the KLAQ.
First post Saturday is scheduled for 12:45 p.m.
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.