Wrangler Racing Aces Blog

Speedy weekend ahead at SunRay and Sam Houston.

Speedy weekend ahead at SunRay and Sam Houston.

Fast Fridays at SunRay
By Jennifer K. Hancock

SunRay Park kicked off its 36-day mixed meet April 21 with JM Country Man winning the opening day feature, the $30,000 Animas Stakes.

The Farmington, New Mexico, track, located in the Four Corners region will contest 17 stakes – eight for Thoroughbreds, eight for Quarter Horses and one for both breeds – during its spring meet that will conclude June 19.

SunRay Park’s live racing will be on a Friday-through-Monday schedule. Monday and Friday post time is at 3 p.m. MDT and Saturdays and Sundays will begin with a 1:15 p.m. MDT post time.
Steve Fedunak, SunRay’s mutuel manager and simulcast coordinator since 2013, reports that on Mondays, you can catch SunRay’s final four races on TVG. The track is testing the popularity of the broadcasts and might expand coverage.

SunRay Park introduced a Guest Paddock Analyst program this year. Q-Racing Ace Jonathan Horowitz will be offering his insight on-track this Saturday and Sunday. John Hernandez kicked off the new program on opening weekend.

The track continues their Freaky Fast Fridays with an all Quarter Horse card on Fridays. Handicappers will have a $1,049 Super Hi5/Pentafecta Carryover going into Friday’s card. The richest race of the meet will be the 350-yard, $100,000-est. New Mexico Breeders’ Futurity (RG3) for state-bred 2-year-olds on May 14, and Friday’s card features four trials to determine the futurity’s finalists.
Trainer Oscar V. Carrete is off to a hot start at SunRay. With four starts, he’s saddled two winners and one second-place finisher. He’s winning at a 50 percent clip and in the money 75 percent of the time with $17,533 in earnings.

JM Country Man’s opening day victory helped pushed trainer Cynthia Gonzalez and jockey Mauro Salcedo to the top of the earnings category for Quarter Horse trainers and jockeys. Owned by J & M Racing and Farm of Monahans, Texas, JM Country Man, a 3-year-old by Mr Jess Perry out of the Country Chicks Man mare Sumokin, extended his win streak to three with his victory in the Animas Stakes.

Last year, trainer Jill Giles and jockey Jose Enriquez led the Quarter Horse standings at SunRay.
Enriquez is off to a quick start in his quest for the 2017 jockey title at the New Mexico track. From 13 starts, Enriquez has ridden five winners, three second-place runners and one third-place finisher. He’s already banked $39,484, is winning at a 38 percent clip and is finishing in the money 69 percent of the time.

Visit the track’s website at www.sunraygaming.com, and click on the “Simulcast & Live Racing” link at the top of the homepage for the latest information on the meet.

Solid Group Set for Saturday’s Sam Houston Futurity
By Martha Claussen

Sam Houston Race Park will present the richest race of their Quarter Horse season, the $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on Saturday, April 29. For the first time, the trials were run over a two-day period on April 7 and 8, with the five fastest qualifiers from each night earning a spot in the final.  Each of the ten juveniles must be respected, as should their connections!

Brothers Angel and Jose Sanchez seem to fly under the radar, which is surprising as both are very talented horsemen with notable records in the region. Angel won the 2015 Sam Houston Futurity with Ivan James and Jose conditioned Just Call Me Carter, last year’s winner. Jose has already won two futurities this year at Louisiana Downs: Blue Eyed Fance upset the field in the $273,000 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) on March 18 and Together To The End, the second-fastest qualifier, won the $233,578 Harrah's Entertainment Futurity (G3) five days later.

Both men have two horses in the final. Jose will send out fastest qualifier Kas Tempting, the 5-2 morning-line favorite and LJ Fastest Time, who is 8-1.

Kas Tempting had an effortless debut, covering 330-yards in :16.740, into a 9mph head wind, winning by a margin of 2 ½ lengths. He is by Tempting Dash, the sire of 2014 Sam Houston Futurity winner and champion Kiss My Hocks.

Sanchez was not surprised by the exceptional debut by Kas Tempting, a $16,000 repurchase at the 2016 Heritage Place Yearling Sale in Oklahoma City. Kas Tempting was ridden by Luis Vivanco, but Manuel Gutierrez will ride the fastest qualifier Saturday night as Vivanco will pilot LJ Fastest Time. The son of The Louisiana Cartel is also trained by Sanchez and bred and owned by Vivanco’s wife, Elizabeth.

Sanchez’s younger brother, Angel, will saddle Nocturnes and Capital Ice. Nocturnes, an Ivory James colt, is owned by Agustin Hernandez and will be ridden by Raul Ramirez Jr. from Post 9. Angel Sanchez teamed with Ramirez with another Ivory James colt, Ivan James, in the 2015 Sam Houston Futurity.

It’s hard to ignore the success of trainer Leon Bard and jockey Francisco Calderon this season at Sam Houston. They also qualified two runners from the same dam, Lady Lilia: This Is A Deal Too and This Is An Eagle. The latter, a colt by One Famous Eagle, who won his trial on the gusty Saturday night program in :16.757, is my top selection. Pete Scarmardo bred This Is An Eagle, who was purchased for $100,000 at the 2016 TQHA Yearling Sale by Mary G. Lynne Thompson. Calderon, who qualified three for the final, knew immediately he would stick with this colt, who impressed him from his very first work in December.

Bobby Martinez, who trained 2010 Sam Houston Futurity winner Sixes Liaison, will saddle Narcisco Flores’ homebred Tempting Goinbye. Also by Tempting Dash, he set the fourth-fastest time in the Friday night trials and will be ridden by Damian Martinez, just one of four Quarter Horse jockeys in the country to win over 100 races last year.

Several past Sam Houston Futurity champions have gone on to national prominence, including Azoom (2004), Especially Tres (2013) and Kiss My Hocks (2014). Wishing all the best to each of the connections!

Wrangler Racing Ace Martha Claussen’s Top-Four Selections:
#7 This Is An Eagle
#5 Kas Tempting
#9 Nocturnes
#2 Tempting Goinbye

Wrangler Racing Aces in April
Visit the Q-Racing page on Facebook or follow the Aces @Q-Racing on Twitter for timely updates on Quarter Horse racing across North America. The Wrangler Racing Aces are following the horses, jockeys, trainers and milestones at Los Alamitos, Sunland Park, Turf Paradise, Sam Houston Race Park, SunRay Park, Delta Downs and Remington Park.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHARacing on Twitter, “like” Q-Racing on Facebook and visit www.aqharacing.com.