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Popular Zia Festival Starts On Saturday

Ty Wyant

           The first of two days of the increasingly popular Zia Festival celebrating New Mexico-bred racing begin on Saturday with the $165,771 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity for thoroughbreds and the $162,412 Zia Derby for quarter horses.

            The other stakes on Saturday is the $20,000 By By JJ and the $20,000 Bobby Dan Crenshaw Memorial.

            Racing during the Zia Festival continues on Sunday with the festival’s richest race – the $380,000 Zia Futurity.

            The Zia Festival is centered around New Mexico-bred horse racing. There is more with fun for the entire family. The grandstand filled with vendors offering their New Mexico and Southwestern arts and crafts.

            The booths open before the races start at 1 p.m.

            An important addition to this year’s Zia Festival is a silent auction to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund. The silent auction items include autographed prints of famous racehorses, including Secretariat, Zenyatta, California Chrome and Wise Dan. The portraits will be located in the grandstand.

            The five-and-one-half furlong Senorita Futurity is led by the three fillies who won the three trials – Blaze To Glory, What A Flag and Dust Alert.

            Bobby McQueen and Dale Taylor’s homebred Blaze To Glory dominated her trial by five lengths. In her other start, the Todd Fincher-trained filly won her maiden by four-and-three-quarter lengths.

            J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s homebred What A Flag was fifth in the $146,000 Mountain Top Futurity against males. The Henry Dominguez-trained filly then scored a one-and-one-half length win in her Senorita trial.

            Larry and Harry Teague’s Dust Alert is two-for-two for trainer Weston Martin. She won her maiden at first asking by six-and-one-half lengths and then took her Senorita trial by one-and-three quarter lengths as the 1-5 favorite.

            In the 400-yard Zia Derby, MJ Farms’ homebred Astica chases her fourth-straight win and holds fastest-qualifier honors. She won her Zia Futurity trial last summer and then was off until May. Shed returned to win the Pelican Stakes by three lengths and set a new track record of :18.91 for 400 yards at The Downs at Albuquerque.

            A daughter of Jesse James Jr and champion Alice K White, Astica scored by one-and-three-quarter lengths in :19.595 as the 1-2 choice for trainer Wes Giles.

            Giles will also saddle second-fastest qualifier Memoryflash, owned by Jose Espinosa and Jim Laird.

            Memoryflash qualified for last summer’s Zia Futurity and won his trial by one length for his third win from his latest four starts. His second-fastest time was :19.782, the equivalent of more than one length slower than Astica.

            In the 400-yard By By JJ, Wood Be Charming tries to step forward with a win after finishing second in each of her two starts for trainer Mike Joiner. The $37,000 Ruidoso New Mexico-Bred Sale graduate was beaten by one-half length in her Zia Futurity trial for owners Joe Dee Brooks, Scott Bryant and Marc Jungers.

            In the 1000-yard Bobby Dan Crenshaw Memorial, Solitaire Stable’s thoroughbred Unfettered comes off a one-and-one-half length win in the $35,000 Inaugural Handicap at SunRay Park. He also won the $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap at Sunland Park.

            The Henry Dominguez-trained Unfettered won the 2013 Norgor Derby at Ruidoso Downs by 10-and-one-half lengths.

            For complete Ruidoso Downs’ information, visit the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino Facebook page and follow the Ruidoso Press Box (@RuiPressBox) on Twitter.