In day of upsets, El Duero posted a resounding win at over 12-1 odds in the 54th running of the $217,146 West Texas Futurity (Grade 1) at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Sunday.
The two-year-old gelded son of Oak Tree Special mowed down his opponents in deep stretch to win the 300 yard classic by a half-length. Jockey Agustin Silva scored a career best victory with the young Quarter Horse. Coming off a second place finish in the trials, El Duero showed more dimension in the finale for trainer Toby Keeton.
The Texas based trainer had his charge ready to beat a solid group of two-year-olds. El Duero closed mightily from fifth place to overwhelm both Yield to Libby and Pajarita Sita at the wire. The winner caught the distance in a fast 14.683 seconds, good for a 104 speed index. His first career win was worth $102,059 for the R/T Stables of Odessa, Texas. El Duero paid $27.40 on a $2 win ticket.
Keeton said in the winner’s circle, “He was a little green in the trials. He was looking at the tote board and the flags. He was much more settled today.”
Yield to Libby finished a terrific second in between runners under jockey Esgar Ramirez. The runner-up trained by Hermenegildo Aldavaz earned $39,086 for owner Victor Diaz of Sunland Park, New Mexico. The Azoom filly closed with energy and showed much heart.
Top qualifier Pajarita Sita led early but had to settle for third place, beaten one length. She raced as the 5-2 favorite for owner-trainer Alonso Orozco.
Expertly ridden by jockey Ken Tohill, Fog Alert (18-1) galloped away to an upset win in the 53rd renewal of the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap at one and one-eighth miles.
The former $16,000 claimer took clear advantage of a fast pace that was set in 22.73 and 45.98 seconds for the first two calls. The natural stretch runner responded eagerly to Tohill’s direction and was full of run with an eighth of a mile to go. While Forest Mouse put away challenges from Vamoose and Red Lead, Fog Alert was just heating up and hitting his best stride.
The five-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding swept on by Forest Mouse in the final 100 yards and pulled clear to a impressive 2-length win. He was timed in a good 1:49.78 and paid a healthy $38.00 to win. Fog Alert collected his third win of the meet for trainer David Wolochuk who is also a co-owner along with Arthur and Robin Olivier of Castor Valle, California. The sharp router took home a $60,000 first place check.
Forest Mouse made a daring middle move under jockey Alejandro Medellin but could not stall off the winner. The Curribot Stakes winner Vamoose flattened in the stretch drive and finished third, beaten nearly 5 lengths. 2010 Sunland Park Handicap winner Red Lead experienced plenty of traffic problems in upper stretch and could not recover. The $604,105 stakes winner wound up fourth.
The 2011-12 live racing season concludes on Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. A $39,769 Solo 6 carryover pool will be on the line. There will be a mandatory payout on the Solo 6. The $50,000 Getaway Stakes at 870 yards is the feature race.