Valiant Tiberias continues to be the pleasant surprise of the Ruidoso Downs season while setting the fastest-qualifying time to the $53,108 Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge on Friday afternoon.
The three-year-olds with the 10-fastest times from the three 400-yard trials qualified to compete in the Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge on June 29. The winner of the Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge then qualifies to compete in the Grade 3, $150,000 (est.) Adequan Derby Challenge Championship on October 26 at Albuquerque Downs.
Owned by Sergio Holguin, Cliften Nielsen and Felix Rodriguez, Valiant Tiberias dominated the first trial when he drew out to a two-length win as the 7-10 favorite. He was timed in :19.920.
“He had a good start and a clean trip,” winning jockey James Flores said. “I didn’t do anything special. He took off.”
Valiant Tiberias was winless from three starts last year and is now undefeated from three starts this year since joining the Ricardo Armendariz stable.
A gelding by Valiant Hero, Valiant Tiberias started his winning streak by taking his Maiden Stakes trial by one-and-one-quarter lengths back on May 10. He then came back as the 3-1 favorite in the $116,840 Maiden Stakes and responded with a convincing three-quarter-length victory.
Victor Diaz’s Magnifico raced to the second-fastest qualifying time of :20.098 while winning the second trial by three-quarters of a length.
The Efren Aguilar-ridden Magnifico had a clean trip and finished well as the 8-5 favorite.
Magnifico, trained Martin Orona, Jr., earned his favoritism by winning three of his previous four starts. In his prior out, he fought to a head win in a $36,000 conditioned allowance race at SunRay Park.
The unofficial list of qualifiers to the Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge is Valiant Tiberias (:19.920), Magnifico (:20.098), Jakes Baby Wagon (:20.187), New Moon Dynasty (:20.218), Fast Gold Prize (:20.263), Jess Master Angel (:20.263), Conquering Marie (:20.286), Confidential Class (:20.312), C Breeze (:20.344) and Chasing Valiant (:20.388).
For the latest Ruidoso Downs information, go to www.raceruidoso.com, visit the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino Facebook page and follow Ruidoso Downs on Twitter @RuidosoDowns and on Instagram.