'Moonflash aims for strong return

Steve Bortstein
For The Daily Times
Major Moonflash, shown here on his way to victory in the New Mexico Classic Derby at Zia Park in November, is the 2-to-1 morning-line favorite in today's $33,800 Jimmy Drake Stakes at SunRay Park and Casino.

FARMINGTON — Major Moonflash, one of the top 3-year-old quarter horses in the state last year, is set to make a splashy debut in his 2016 campaign.

Major Moonflash, trained by Jill Giles and owned by Pierre and Leslie Amestoy, finished his 3-year-old season with a romping win in the New Mexico Classic Derby at Zia Park. He then followed up that performance with a pair of stakes-placed efforts against older horses in the Grade 1 Zia Park Championship and the Grade 1 Jess Burner Handicap.

The gelded son of First Moonflash wound up winning three times from 12 starts last year, earning nearly $200,000 while establishing himself as one of the leading older prospects in the state for 2016.

Friday, Major Moonflash is installed as the 2-to-1 morning-line favorite for the $33,800 Jimmy Drake Stakes, a 400-yard race at SunRay Park and Casino.

For his first race as an older horse, the connections of Major Moonflash sure picked an ambitious spot for his return.

Major Moonflash is scheduled to be ridden by Martin Bourdieu in the Drake, which goes as the eighth race on a nine-race card. The post time of the first race on the card is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Nearly all of his five rivals in the Drake have some kind of stakes race experience, in particular Downwiththequickness, a seven-time winner and multiple stakes winner owned and trained by Terry Smith.

An earner of more than $153,000 in his career, Downwiththequickness scored stakes victories in last year's KOFX-FM Handicap at Sunland Park. Prior to that, he won the 2014 New Mexico Breeders' Derby at the Downs at Albuquerque.

Downwiththequickness, the third choice on the morning line at odds of 9-to-2, is scheduled to be ridden by Alonso Rivera.

Yaneth Cabrera's A Blazin Flash, trained by Ron Stephens, has won two of his last three starts, but comes into the Drake off a narrow half-length loss and finished fourth in the New Mexico Breeders' Stakes held here earlier this month.

Jose Enriquez will ride A Blazin Flash, who's facing older stakes company for the first time in his career. He has been installed as the co-second choice on the morning line at odds of 7-to-2.

The Drake Stakes has a scheduled post time of 5:48 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.