In dramatic finish, Iplaytricks upset heavily favored Rose’s Desert by three quarters of a length to win the $110,000 Sydney Valentini Handicap on Saturday at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
With a masterful trainer job from Joel Marr, Iplaytricks continued her success at one mile or more and beat one of the hottest New Mexico-bred mares in the process. Iplaytricks responded brilliantly under a strategic ride from Ken Tohill. The four-year-old filly by Desert God tackled Rose’s Desert at the quarter pole and the pair remained interlocked in battle for nearly the entire stretch run. Iplaytricks gradually pulled clear of Rose’s Desert in the final stages after a terrific duel. The winner is a perfect three for three in races of one more or more and has won four of six races over Sunland Park soil. She won last year’s New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks.
Iplaytricks parlayed her stalking trip to victory in the route feature and was timed in a solid 1:38.46. She picked up a $66,000 first prize check for owner Michael Stinson of Ft. Worth, Texas. Her sterling record improved to 7 wins from 14 starts. The worthy 7-1 shot paid a generous $16.40 to win.
The Valentini victory was the fifth stakes win for red hot trainer Joel Marr who is currently in third place among the Thoroughbred trainers.
$110,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission champion Rose’s Desert ran her heart out for jockey Juan Ochoa. The 2-5 favorite forced the pace throughout after breaking from the #10 post position. The dark bay filly looked poised for victory when racing past Elvira Who down the back stretch, but a fresh challenger emerged in the form of Iplaytricks. Todd Fincher’s charge dug in gamely and tried to repel the challenge for nearly a quarter mile. Rose’s Desert was valiant in defeat coming off a 2-month layoff. The runner-up earned $23,100 for owner Joe Peacock of San Antonio Texas. She was coming off four straight wins.
Soaring Goddess finished eagerly to get third place. The 37-1 long shot ran well and was beaten on 1 and 1/2 lengths. Multiple stakes winner Cali Baby was rolling late also and finished a good fourth beaten less than two lengths.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:25 p.m. The $110,000 NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes (5th race) starring Shue Fly winner First Blazin Love is the main event.