Former claimer Bet On Ballou reached a career zenith by winning the $85,000 Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Sunday.
Rolling through a crest of sharp form, Bet On Ballou won his third straight race of the meet and 10th overall in the stakes race for older New Mexico-bred Quarter Horses. The eight-year-old gelding trained by Wes Giles defeated Stel Gone Corona by a neck in a driving finish. Despite bobbling at the break, Bet On Ballou found his best strides to take the stakes victory and remain a perfect three for three this year. His form in 2012 and 2013 has been exemplary, winning 6 races from 10 tries.
Bet On Ballou earned $51,000 for the Quarter Circle W Bar LLC of Edgewood, New Mexico. Sunday’s victory pushed the winner’s lifetime bankroll past $189,000. He and jockey Jaime Parga Leos sped through the 350 yards in a good 17.065 seconds, earning a 91 speed index. Loyal supporters of the winner received $17.80 on a $2 win ticket.
Stel Gone Corona finished a close second at odds of 6-1 under jockey Manuel Gutierrez. The former stakes winner was flying on the outside and just missed. NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes winner Sandys Jesse ran another big race. The three-year-old filly performed well in her first attempt against older runners and was game third.
Defending champion Here Kittykittykitty finished fourth beaten one length. The multiple stakes winner of over $427,000 was making his first start since last summer.
Live racing resumes on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) is only 2 weeks away to be run on Sunday, March 24.