SUNLAND PARK — Jockey Ry Eikleberry probably wasn’t expecting Alsono to go to the lead Saturday in the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, but a few jumps out of the gate, it was obvious both horse riders were all in.
Alsono jumped right to the lead out of the gate in the 5 furlong dash, then held off the late rally of Forin Sea to post a mild upset, winning by a half-length for trainer Justin Evans.
A four-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Limehouse, Alsono broke a track record in the KLAQ Handicap, running the distance in a final time of 55.72 seconds. That time eclipsed the previous mark set by Fearless Anthony in 2008 by one-tenth of a second.
“We definitely weren’t planning to be in front,” Eikleberry said after the race. “But a few jumps in and that’s the best kind of trip.”
Looking at his most recent running lines, Alsono had generally been a bit of a closer, running into fast paces and unleashing his late rally.
“He’s definitely one of the gamest horses I’ve ever been on,” Eikleberry said. “He just pinned his ears back and got there first.”
Alsono won for the 12th time in his 24-race career and the third time in seven starts at Sunland. The winner’s share of the purse increases his lifetime bankroll to nearly $300,000.
Sent off at odds of 9.80-to-1, Alsono returned $21.60 to his winning backers.
Forin Sea, ridden by Ricardo Jaime, made a run at the leader turning for home, then battled with Alsono through the length of the stretch before eventually settling for second. He was just ahead of Redneck Humor, who settled for third under Alfredo Juarez Jr.
Osbaldo wins Burner
Taking command midway down the lane, jockey Ivan Carnero guided Osbaldo to a half-length victory in the $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap.
Sent off at odds of 4.60-to-1, Osbaldo ran the 400 yards in a final time of 19.77, winning for the 11th time in his career from 34 starts.
A New Mexico-bred six-year-old gelded son of Jesse James Jr., Osbaldo won for the fourth time in his career at Sunland. He’s now won two races in a row, and with the win, increases his career bankroll to nearly $400,000.
Major Moonflash, ridden by Adrian Ramos for trainer Jason Giles, was second best, narrowly in front of Jess Got Issues.
Major Moonflash remains winless in four starts at Sunland Park. The winner of the New Mexico Classic Cup Derby last month at Zia Park has now lost two in a row, last time out finishing fourth behind last year’s world champion quarter horse Jrc Callas First in the Zia Park Championship on Nov. 25.
Jess Got Issues, sent off as the even-money favorite for trainer Guadalupe Munoz Jr., was a little restless in the gate just prior to the start and ran on late under Ricky Ramirez to narrowly miss the runner-up spot.
Osbaldo paid $11.20 to his backers at the windows for his efforts.
Stakes doubleheader on tap today
Soaring Dea will be looking for her second straight win today when she arrives at the gate for the $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap, one of two stakes races on a strong nine-race card.
Owned by Lindsay Gonzalez and trained by Justin Evans, Soaring Dea was an impressive winner at Zia Park on Nov. 30. The six-year-old, state-bred daughter of Desert God has won five times from 42 career starts and has been installed as the 3-to-1 morning line choice for the 6 furlong co-feature.
Soaring Dea will break from post 7 in the 8-horse field and is scheduled to be ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr.
The Commission Handicap will go as the seventh race, with a post time of 3:18 p.m.
The Johnie Jamison Handicap, which will go as the final race on the card, features Wyatt, looking for his fifth consecutive win for trainer Ever Olguin.
Wyatt’s win streak stared last August at SunRay Park and Casino and includes upset scores in the New Mexico Thoroughbred Handicap at Albuquerque on Sept. 27, followed by a late-running score in the New Mexico Classic Cup Sprint at Zia Park on Nov. 1.
Owned by C.P. Hourigan, the six-year-old son of Pro Prado has won eight times from 20 lifetime starts with career earnings eclipsing $225,000. He will once again be ridden by Pedro Benitez.
Wyatt will break from the rail in the 10-horse field for the Jamison, which has a scheduled post time of 4:10 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.