Clear Winn scores narrow upset in La Plata
FARMINGTON — Sunday's La Plata Stakes at SunRay Park and Casino required not only relentless energy and a driving finish, it also required a much closer look at the photo-finish camera.
By the narrowest of margins, Clear Winn, ridden by Porfirio Cano and dismissed by many bettors as a 12.50-to-1 shot, outnodded Stick Shift Sc by a nose to earn his first career stakes win for trainer Delfino Estrada and owner Tomas Avitia.
The Texas-bred, 4-year-old son of Jess Zoomin broke perfectly from post 2 in the 10-horse field, dueling throughout the race with Stick Shift Sc and proving best by a nose.
In doing so, Clear Winn not only won for the third time in four starts over the local course, he also established a new course record, racing 300 yards in 14.88 seconds, besting the mark set by Seperate Wild (15.05) in 2014.
Clear Winn, who was making his first start of 2016, has now won five times from his 14-race career. The La Plata score snapped an eight-race losing streak, which included minor placings in the O.B. Cockerell Stakes and the Conquistador Stakes at Albuquerque Downs last year.
The $21,360 winners share of the La Plata purse puts Clear Winn's earnings over $105,000.
Stick Shift Sc ran too well to lose, also breaking sharply from the inside post under Jaime Leos and missing by the smallest of margins. The loss ends a six-race win streak that saw the son of Get Down Perry record victories at Sunland Park, Zia Park and Hialeah in south Florida.
It was more than a length back to third-place finisher Chief Coronas Charm, followed by post-time favorite Alis Jumpn, who simply ran out of real estate when trying to rally from the center of the course.
Cole Handicap a wide-open affair
A talented field of older state-bred thoroughbreds, headed by 3-to-1 morning-line favorite Atillas Gift, will take center stage today in the $44,800 Jack Cole Handicap, one of the most prestigious races during the live season at SunRay Park and Casino.
Named after one of the more distinguished members of the New Mexico Racing Commission, who passed away in 2007, the Jack Cole Handicap will go as the featured eighth race of a nine-race card that has a scheduled first post time of 3 p.m.
Atillas Gift, a four-time winner from 20 career starts, will break from post 2 in the 1-mile Cole. Scheduled to be ridden by journeyman Norberto Arroyo Jr., Atillas Gift just missed last time out against optional claiming company at Sunland Park on April 19. Prior to that effort, the 4-year-old son of Attila's Storm won a starter allowance race at Sunland on April 2, snapping a 10-race losing streak.
Trained by Todd Fincher for owners Scott Bryant and Joe Dee Brooks, Atillas Gift raced at SunRay Park last year, finishing fourth in the 6 1-2 furlong Dine Stakes here in August.
Drawn alongside Atillas Gift in the Cole is D E Lover, an earner of more than $215,000 while winning six times from 23 career starts. Trained by Tony Sedillo and owned in part by Sedillo and Leroy Martinez, D E Lover comes off a fifth-place finish in a 5 furlong sprint allowance at Sunland last time out, snapping a six-race streak in which the son of So Long Birdie had finished no worse than third.
D E Lover owns a win over the course and is slated to be ridden by Frank Reyes as the co-second choice at 7-to-2.
Sharing that second choice status with D E Lover is Judge Lanier Racing's Rising Giant, who will break from the outside post in the Cole, which has a scheduled post time of 5:48 p.m.
Rising Giant is a nine-time winner from 34 career starts. Trained by Dan Dennison, the son of The Way Home scored his biggest win earlier this year, crossing the wire in front in the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap lat January at Sunland Park.
Rising Giant has earned nearly $170,000 in his career and is scheduled to be ridden by Glen Muprhy.
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.