The undefeated Running Dragon in the $409,410 Zia Quarter Horse Futurity and the Todd Fincher-trained six qualifiers in the $173,171 Mountain Top Thoroughbred Futurity lead the action during the Zia Festival this weekend at Ruidoso Downs.
The Zia Festival racing on Saturday and Sunday has become one of the most popular weekends during the Ruidoso Downs’ summer season. In addition to the top-tier stakes racing, the grandstand is filled with vendors selling wares with a New Mexico flavor.
First post time is 1 p.m. with free parking and free general admission.
In Sunday’s 400-yard Zia Futurity, offering the largest purse during the Zia Festival, is the undefeated Running Dragon.
By By LL Limited Partnership’s Running Dragon is firmly established as the top New Mexico-bred juvenile with her five wins from five starts, including two futurity wins.
The Zulu Dragon-sired filly upheld her reputation in the sixth of nine trials. She went to the front and humbled her rivals by two lengths. She raced to the second-fastest time of :19.954 as the 3-10 favorite.
Running Dragon won the New Mexican Spring Futurity by one-half length and came into the Zia Futurity trials after a neck victory in the Mountain Top Futurity.
It was the trainer Todd Fincher show in the trials to the Mountain Top Thoroughbred Futurity, which also runs on Sunday. Fincher won each of the three trials and placed six juveniles in the five-furlong finals on July 31.
Steve and Bessie Prather’s Ignored could be favored in Sundays’s five-furlong Mountain Top New Mexico-Bred Futurity after total domination of the second trial. He won by 11 lengths over stablemate Toll Free.
R.D. Hubbard’s homebred Another Brother won the third trial with the fastest time from the three trials.
In the first trial, Heat Stroke, another Hubbard homebred, made a three-wide move and pulled out to a five-and-one-quarter-length win.
In the trials to Sunday’s $163,843 Zia Derby, Yaneth Cabrera’s Jess Cruzin On By lived up to his name when he easily disposed of his rivals and set the fastest-qualifying time of :19.843 for 400 yards in the fourth and final trial.
Cabrera and trainer Ronald Stephens also qualified A Blazin Flash, winner of the second trial with the second-fastest time, and fifth-fastest fastest qualifier Super Star Smith.
Saturday’s program features the $59,400 John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge with top-two qualifiers Feature Moonflash and Tac It To The Moon. These are two-year-old eligible to the AQHA Racing Challenge program.
James Sills’ Feature Moonflash and El Cabresto Racing Stables LLC’s Tac It To The Moon put on a show in the second of five trials to the John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge and ended up with the top-two qualifying times.
Feature Moonflash broke in and was bumped at the start and was still able to get up and win by a scant nose over Tac It To The Moon. Feature Moonflash was timed in :17.691 for the 350 yards while Tac It To The Moon raced a game :17.699 mark.
Also on Saturday, for New Mexico-breds, are the $20,000 By By JJ and the $20,000 Bobby Dan Crenshaw.
In the 400-yard By By JJ for two-year-olds, Terry and Irene Stennett’s Percyjones has won two of three starts with a close second in the $364,000 Mountain Top Futurity. The Blane Wood-trained gelding won his Zia Futurity trial by a neck as the 3-10 favorite.
Percyjones was a $35,000 Ruidoso Sale purchase.
Thoroughbreds and quarter horses will race over 1,000 yards in the $20,000 Bobby Dan Crenshaw on Saturday afternoon. The quarter horse Kingsbury fits well in this race for owners Javier Beltran, Tony Sedillo and Tommy Galvez. The Fdd Dynasty-sired gelding won two-consecutive allowance races before finishing second in his latest start.
Sunday’s stakes-filled 10-race program begins with the $50,000 Zia 870 Championship.
Victor Diaz’s homebred Coronas Boy, a quarter horse, faces a deep field after winning a $29,000 allowance race by one-and-one-quarter lengths. The Martin Orona Jr.-trained gelding raced on the lead and then pulled out for his first win this year. Last fall, he was third in the $140,000 New Mexico Cup 870 Championship.
In the $50,000 Zia Handicap for quarter horses at 400 yards, Bill McCarty’s Cinco Menudos chases his fifth-consecutive win and his seventh win in his eight latest starts. The Papi Aldavaz-trained gelding won the $170,000 New Mexico Classic Cup Championship two starts ago and comes off a win in a Ruidoso Downs allowance race.
The $50,000 Lincoln Handicap for older fillies and mares at six furlongs features Tilla Cat in peak form after winning an allowance race at five-and-one-half furlongs by six-and-one-half lengths. The member of the deep Fincher stable has been among the top-three finishers in eight of nine starts.
The $50,000 Land Of Enchantment over seven-and-one-half furlongs attracted Mike Stinson’s homebred Proceed. The Joel Marr-trained horse has three consecutive stakes wins at Sunland Park going into the Land Of Enchantment. The Desert God son defeated open horses in his most recent start, the $75,000 Sunland Park Handicap.
The $50,000 Road Runner Handicap over five-and-one-half furlongs brings out R.D. Hubbard’s homebred Forger, a gelding by Attila’s Storm. Another member of the Fincher stable, Forger has won his latest two races, including the $36,000 Dine Stakes on June 6.
The $50,000 Sierra Blanca Handicap at five-and-one-half furlongs has a contentious field that includes Larry and Denise Nichols’ homebred Citizen Geller. The Vance Mikkelson-trained gelding scored at 20-1 odds in the O. D. McDonald Stakes in his latest race.
The Sunday program closes with three-year-old fillies racing over five-and-one-half furlongs in the Sierra Starlet. The Fincher-trained Tijuana, a $47,000 Ruidoso Yearling Sale purchase, won back-to-back races before being disqualified from the victory in her most recent start. A year ago, she was second in the $166,000 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity.
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