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Winning Merlot In Strong Daylong Zia Futurity Trials on Friday at Ruidoso

Amanda Greer

            RUIDOSO DOWNS, New Mexico (July 4, 2014) – Joseph and Debra Meridyth Jr.’s New Mexican Spring Futurity winner Winning Merlot is among a deep group of New Mexico-bred two-year-olds racing in the 10 trials to the Restricted-Grade 1, $392,253 Zia Futurity on Friday afternoon at Ruidoso Downs.

            First post time is 1 p.m. with free parking and free general admission.

            The horses with the 10-fastest times from the trials advance to the Zia Futurity on July 27. The Zia Futurity offers the largest purse during the two days of the Zia Festival celebrating New Mexico-bred racing.

            Winning Merlot dueled for the early lead in the New Mexican Spring Futurity and then drew away for the one-half length victory. The Jackie Riddle-trained miss was timed in :15.000 for the 300 yards. She then finished second in her Mountain Top Futurity trial and was disqualified.

            Riddle has named Joe Badilla Jr. to ride Winning Merlot for the first time and they will start from the inside post position in the second trial.

            One of the two $15,000 supplemental nominees, A. Wade Helton’s Magic Of Winning is in the same trial with the fourth post position. She was fifth in her only start at Remington Park.

            The other supplement is Diamond Racing Stables’ Chamiso James, winner of each of his starts. The Umberto Belloc-trained colt won his maiden at SunRay Park and then took an allowance race at the Farmington track by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

            Chamiso James has the third post position in the 10th and final trial with Alonso Rivera up.

            The elegantly bred Astica is in prime form for trainer Matt Fales. She is a daughter of leading New Mexico sire Jesse James Jr and her dam is 2009 champion three-year-old filly Alice K White.

            Astica was a very close third in her Mountain Top Futurity trial and qualified for the finals. She then went on to finish third in the $341,000 Mountain Top Futurity, her most recent start.

            Tanner Thedford will ride Astica from the ninth post position in the sixth trial.

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