Back to business at Sunland Park
SUNLAND PARK – After a 34-day hiatus from racing, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino was back in business Friday.
Friday’s nine-race card, headlined by three stakes races, brought to an end a rather tumultuous time after dealing with an outbreak of a virus that put the racing season on hold.
And while some of Sunland remains under quarantine, the business of racing resumed and will continue throughout the weekend with stakes action picking up today and Sunday.
Among the Friday highlights was a spectacular performance by K P Wildcat, who rallied from far back to win the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes for trainer Weston Martin.
After a very slow beginning from the gate, the 3-year-old was 10 lengths behind the field down the backstetch. As the field moved through the far turn in the one-mile race, K P Wildcat inhaled her six rivals before drawing off to a 7 3/4-length victory.
As the 1-to-5 favorite, K P Wildcat ran the mile in 1:39.46. The victory adds $45,000 to her career bankroll, increasing her earnings to more than $75,000.
Sweet Bea was a well-beaten second, followed by L.J.’s Awesome Girl with Improvise rounding out the top four. They were followed by Mc Hottie and Zapped Out.
Concord Fast wins Mine That Bird Stakes
Ry Eikleberry rode both winners in the Friday thoroughbred stakes races, guiding Concord Fast to a sharp, four-length win in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Stakes.
Concord Fast raced well off the early pace, but moved up to a stalking position as the field bunched up on the far turn and finished the one-mile race in 1:37.75.
A maiden winner last summer at SunRay Park and Casino, Concord Fast finished second in the Manzano Stakes at Albuquerque Downs before finishing fourth in the Governor's Cup at Zia Park last October. Earning his second win from four career starts, Concord Fast pads his career bankroll to more than $80,000.
Sent off at 4-to-1 at post time, Concord Fast returned $10 to his winning backers, with Cowboy Cool, Deputy's Echo and Dad rounding out the top four.
Morning-line and post-time favorite Bruntino moved up around the turn to contest the leaders, but flattened out in the lane.
Bruntino was followed across the wire by Crown of Ambition, Music Giant, Hemakesmyheartsing, Cattle Company and Volley.
'Mountain climbs to victory
Faith Mountain, sent off as an 18-to-1 outsider in the $50,000 KOFX-Radio Overnight Invitational Stakes, prevailed by a long neck over Dm Ada Kat, earning her first career stakes win.
Faith Mountain rallied between horses in the 350-yard dash, got the lead inside the final 100 yards and withstood a late rally to win for the third time in her 13-race career.
Bred in Oklahoma, the well-traveled 5-year-old mare ran the 350 yards in 17.76 seconds, returning $38 to her winning backers and increasing her lifetime earnings to more than $60,000.
Dm Ada Kat grabbed the second-place spot ahead of The Ocean King, followed by Mad About The Moon.
Sent off as the heavy post-time favorite, Mad About The Moon broke a bit inward from her inside post, moved up to contest for the lead, but ran out of gas in the final yards.
Mad About The Moon was followed by Queen Arabella, Six Episodes and The Devils Rainbow.
Bone Chillin and Cement Flats were scratched earlier in the day.
Peppers Pride Handicap headlines today's card
A strong field of nine older fillies and mares will go to the starting gate for today's Peppers Pride Handicap, the ninth and featured race on a strong program at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
The nine state-bred runners have combined earnings of more than $1 million, with Little Vidalia leading the money parade with earnings topping $341,000.
My Dandy Girl, coming off a pair of third-place finishes in her most recent starts, is the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite.
Post time for the Peppers Pride is set for 4:55 p.m.
One of the main players in the Peppers Pride, which will be raced at a distance of one mile, is Desert Stepper.
Listed at 6-to-1 on the morning line, the Joel Marr-trained daughter of Desert God romped home by 7 1/2 lengths in her most recent start on Nov. 25 at Zia Park. A winner over the course last year when she broke her maiden at Sunland by nearly 13 lengths, she also has two wins from three starts at the distance.
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.