Trainer Wes Giles saddles the morning-line favorite in the $409,680 Zia Quarter Horse Futurity, $190,937 Zia Quarter Horse Derby and the $50,000 Zia Handicap during the stakes dominated Zia Festival program on Sunday at Ruidoso Downs.
Nine of the 10 races are stakes races and all of the races are for New Mexico-breds. First post time is 1 p.m.
There are nearly 60 vendors selling wares primarily with a southwestern theme and made in New Mexico. There is plenty of activities for kids with a giant slide and a jumping room. The fun starts at 11 a.m.
The morning-line favorites that hail from the Giles stable are Zee James in the Zia Futurity, Bigg Daddy in the Zia Derby and Seeyalateralligator in the Zia Handicap.
Robert Driggers and Ben Lee Ivey’s Zee James, a half-sister to All American Futurity runner-up Gun Battle, won the $396,000 New Mexican Spring Futurity in her second career start and comes off an impressive Zia Futurity trial victory. The Jesse James Jr.-sired filly won her trial by one-and-three-quarter lengths with the third-fastest qualifying time of :19.938 for 400 yards.
Too For Two’s Big Daddy, a $25,000 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, is one of the premier three-year-olds in the nation. The gelding won last year’s $371,000 Zia Futurity and the was second in the Grade 1, $3,000,000 All American Futurity on Labor Day. The son of Big Daddy Cartel and champion Alice K White was then off for the winter and came back with an impressive Zia Derby trial score. He won by three-quarters of a length with the second-fastest qualifying time of :19.837 for 400 yards.
“He’s really doing well,” said Giles. “It’s all go. We’ve galloped him a couple of times and stood him in the gates (since the trial win). Regular rider and hall of famer G.R. Carter Jr. was up for all of Bigg Daddy’s work since the trials.
Bigg Daddy, who has earned $663,418, has prominent open races on the horizon. He will point to the trials of the Grade 1, $1 million (est.) All American Derby on August 19.
Ezra Elton Lee’s and Jason Giles’ Seeyalateralligator does some of his best work at Ruidoso Downs. Last year, he was just a neck behind Kool First Moon in the Zia Handicap. The Winners Version son has earned $368,667 while competing primarily against New Mexico-bred competition.
$50,000 Land of Enchantment Stakes
W.D. Carson Sr., M.H. Carson Jr. and Leach Racing LLC’s Thunder Dome, an $8,000 Ruidoso sale purchase who has earned $332,363, could be peaking at the right time for trainer Dallas Barton. The gelded son of Dome won the seven-furlong O.D. McDonald Stakes at Albuquerque Downs in his latest start on June 30.
$50,000 Sierra Blanca Handicap
Trainer Tony Sedillo and Leroy Martinez’s DE Lover has four second-place runs and a third-place finish in his latest five starts. Two starts ago, the veteran seven-year-old gelding took the lead in the Ruidoso Sprint Handicap and then got caught on the wire to finish second by a neck. The So Long Birdie son has finished in the top-three runners in 31 of 51 starts and has earned $509,718.
Road Runner Handicap
George Coleman and trainer Henry Dominguez’s Blazing Navarone takes on this field of three-year-olds after three consecutive daylight wins at Sunland Park. The classy son of Song Of Navarone won the 4 Rivers Juvenile, Red Hedeman Mile and the New Mexico Breeders’ Derby. Each of wins was by more than three lengths.
Michael Weatherly’s homebred Explosive Spy takes on a contentious field of three-year-old and older fillies and mares. The five-year-old daughter of Your Eminence stepped up two starts ago at SunRay Park with a late-running one-and-one-half length win in the Foutz Distaff over six-and-one-half furlongs for trainer Simon Buechler. In her most recent start, Explosive Spy challenged open fillies and mares in the First Lady handicap and came up with a creditable third-place finish over the Ruidoso Downs track.
- Kirk and Judy Robison’s homebred Fast Gator takes on three-year-old fillies after a sensational two-year-old season. The Diabolical daughter went four-for-four last year with wins in the Rio Grande Senorita Futurity, New Mexico Cup Lassie Stakes and the La Senora Handicap. On her sole 2018 start — back in January — she was steadied and finished fourth in the Enchantress Stakes.
Zia 870 Championship
3L Racing Partners’ Tag Yur It, a $7,000 Ruidoso Sale purchase with earnings of $213,522, makes his first start since December for trainer Lauren Fincher. The Roll Hennessy Roll (tb)-sired quarter horse made a late run to win the $140,000 New Mexico Cup 870 Championship and was third in last year’s Zia 870 Championship