El Paso, TX — The great Here Kittykittykitty was magnificent yet again and purred to a neck victory in the $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Saturday.
The powerful six-year-old gelding won his third straight race under jockey Larry Gamez and cemented his claim to being the best older New Mexico-bred Quarter Horse in training. Coming off a rousing win the New Mexico Classic Cup Championship at Zia Park last October, Here Kittykittykitty remained razor sharp for trainer Wes Giles on opening weekend at Sunland Park. The 5-2 shot got the lead in mid-stretch and would not relinquish control through the final 100 yards. The multiple stakes winner was simply too tough and collected his 9th career win for owner Melvin Neugebauer, the hay cube businessman from Colorado.
Here Kittykittykitty was the 2012 Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap champion as well. He paid $7.80 to win on Saturday and took home a first place check worth $51,000. The winning time was 19.830 seconds for 400 yards with a cold head win blowing. The 2013 Jess Burner champion now carries a bankroll of over $613,000 and earns an automatic berth to the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park to be run on Sunday, Dec. 29.
15-1 longshot Jess Reuben James ran a bold race to gain second under jockey Esgar Ramirez. He finished a neck in front of 9-1 outsider An Absolut Diamond who led early in the Quarter Horse feature. The $1 trifecta was worth $531.30.
Homerun Berti rocketed to a front running 2 and 1/2 length win in the $50,000 KLAQ Handicap going 5 and 1/2 furlongs. The bay gelding by Forestry won his third straight race with another impressive display of speed and staying power. The Justin Evans trained standout opened up a big 4 length advantage at the three eighths pole and had too much momentum for his rivals.
Under last season’s champion Thoroughbred rider Ry Eikleberry, Homerun Berti delivered a commanding win in a time of 1:03.50. The outstanding sprinter earned $30,000 for the SEJ Stables, Inc. Evans capped off a strong start to his 2013-14 Sunland Campaign by winning three races on Saturday. Sunland Park’s defending trainer champion has won 5 races through 2 days of the young meet. Ize in Command found his best strides late to gain second place, a head in front of City Sage.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. Rose’s Desert seeks her third straight win in the $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap (8th race) at six furlongs. Iplaytricks, Little Vidalia and Dawn is Affirmed. The $85,000 Johnie L. Jamison Stakes (10th race) at six and one-half furlongs draws a top notch field of 12 runners led by stakes winners: Mr. Wizard, Attitude E Racer and Thermal.