A terrific opening weekend of racing action at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is highlighted by four major stakes races.
On Saturday, the 14th running of the $120,000 Jess Burner (5th race) at 400 yards lures a high octane field. New Mexico Classic Cup Derby winner Corona Memory Crest is fresh off a driving win over arch rival Here Kittykittykitty. Corona Memory Crest is a 7-time winner of over $184,000. Martin Bourdieu rides the 6-1 proposition. New Mexico Classic Championship winner One Diamond Kitty also rates highly and is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the rich New Mexico-bred 5th race.
Top flight Thoroughbred sprinters collide in Saturday’s $50,000 KLAQ Handicap (10th race) at five and one-furlongs. Former KLAQ winner Ducky Drake is one to watch with his ferocious kick. The eight-year-old Benchmark gelding powered through two straight wins at Zia Park including the Lea County Handicap. The speedy Kineticat Yankee, River Echo, Haitian Hero and Mountain Guide are also part of the lineup.
Sunday’s 11-race program is sparked by two 12-horse fields in both the $120,000 Johnie L. Jamison Stakes (10th race) and the $120,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap (8th race). Todd Fincher saddles two powerhouse stakes winners in the Jamison with Smash Dancer and Chuchuluco. Smash Dancer exits a hard fought win over Lefty Who in the New Mexico Cup Classic Championship at Zia Park. Chuchuluco won the 2010 Pepsi cola Handicap at Sunland Park last season. The fast closing stakes winner Train Rider Blues is another horse to watch in the six and one half furlong feature.
Glory Be Mine, also trained by Fincher, puts her 7-race win streak on the line in the NM State Racing Commission Handicap at 6 furlongs. The three-year-old Dome filly has been virtually unstoppable at the level. The multiple stakes winner of over $412,000 should face a stern test from the extremely sharp 3-time stakes winner Cali Baby and last season’s La Coneja Stakes winner Happy Me.
Seven trials for the $178,624 Sunland Park Winter Quarter Horse Futurity (Grade 2) were held on Friday at 400 yards. Here are the qualifiers for the finale to be held on Sunday, Dec. 26: Bf Sonic Boom, 19.053; Fast Movin Vic, 19.066; Chanel Chic, 19.076; The Redd Zone, 19.086; Docs Famous Dash, 19.102, Giorgino, 19.148; Cobrita, 19.206; Paintyourownwagon, 19.208; Dually Suburban, 19.214 and Decadencia, 19.226.
Post time on Saturday and Sunday is 12:25 p.m.