Page 90 - NM Summer 2023
P. 90

                 SUNLAND PARK
 by Michael Cusortelli
Sunland Park ended its 55-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet on Sunday, April 2.
Sunland Park’s signature Thoroughbred race and New Mexico’s only graded Thoroughbred stakes, the 1 1/8-mile Sunland
Derby (G3) for 3-year-olds pointing toward the Triple Crown trail, was run on Sunday, March 26. Wild On Ice, a locally based homebred son of the Tapit stallion Tapizar, won the race while earning 50 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points. Ken Tohill rode the bay gelding for owner Frank Sumpter and trainer Joel Marr.
Sunland Derby Day drew an announced crowd of 14,333 and a total wagering handle
of $2,880,427 on 11 races, of which $272,332 was bet on track and $2,608,095 was wagered off track. Also on that date, the locally based Nyquist filly Flying Connection earned Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points with her victory in the 1 1/16-mile, $300,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Alfredo Juarez Jr. rode Flying Connection for owners Brad King, Randy Andrews, Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby and Lee Lewis, and trainer Todd Fincher.
Three stakes restricted to New Mexico- breds were also contested on Sunland Derby Day, including the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby (R) for 3-year-olds, and the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000 New Mexico
Breeders’ Oaks (R) for 3-year-old fillies. Sunland Park’s signature Quarter Horse race, the December 31, $350,000
Championship at Sunland Park (G1), was won by Danjer, a 6-year-old gelded son of FDD Dynasty who was winning the 440-yard stakes race for the first time in his career. Quarter Horse racing’s world champion in 2021, Danjer was ridden by James Flores for owners Downtime Enterprises LLC, Billy G. Smith and Dean Frey, who also trained the gelding.
Luis Fuentes was Sunland Park’s leading Thoroughbred jockey with 39 wins from 137 mounts, 10 more than runner-up Alfredo Juarez Jr., who rode the winners of 29 races from 147 mounts. Fuentes also led all Thoroughbred riders with mount earnings of $1,251,166.
Todd Fincher led all Sunland Park Thoroughbred trainers with 35 winners from 130 starters, nine more than runner-up Dick Cappellucci, who sent out the winners of 26 races from 107 starters. Fincher was also the meet’s leading Thoroughbred trainer in starter earnings at $1,823,866.
Sunland Park’s co-leading Thoroughbred owners, Tom and Sandy McKenna’s Judge
Lanier Racing and the partnership of Alfred Alvarado and Martin M. Valdez- Cabral Jr., each won seven races. J. Kirk and Judy Robison of El Paso, Texas, led all Thoroughbred owners in purse earnings with $414,176.
Adrian Ramos (106 mounts) and Hector Aldrete (152) were Sunland Park’s co-leading Quarter Horse jockeys with 21 wins each. Ramos led all Quarter Horse jockeys in mount earnings at $860,592.
Wes Giles topped all Sunland Park Quarter Horse trainers with 19 wins from 87 starters, seven more than runners-up James Gonzales III (65 starters) and Eric Valenzuela (55 starters). Giles also amassed $780,231 in starter earning to lead all Quarter Horse trainers in that category.
MRB Racing LLC was Sunland Park’s leading Quarter Horse owner with six wins from 32 starters, one more than runner-up Jesus M. Soto, who won five races from
33 starters. The partnership of John and Kathy Lee and Ruben Mares was the track’s leading Quarter Horse owner in starter earnings at $269,909.
    88 New Mexico Horse Breeder

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