Veterans, Newbies Share Sunland Program

Older horses prepare for Bank of America Sunland Championship Challenge.

Q-Racing Journal

Heysol Howlet and Julieta Torres’ Feature Mr Who comes off a pair of second-place finishes to be the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Bank of America Sunland Championship Challenge (G2) for older horses and Juan Daguer’s homebred Quemados Version tops the runners to the $209,956 New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) at Sunland Park on Sunday at Sunland Park.

Feature Mr Who (Feature Mr Jess-Whosleaving Corona by Corona Cartel) tries to reach the winner’s circle after second-place finishes in the $350,000 The Championship at Sunland Park (G1) to champion Feature Mr Bojangles and then second in his Bank of America Sunland Park Challenge trial to Jesscuzican (Feature Mr Jess-Covenant Confirmer by Stoli). Feature Mr Who was timed in :21.041 for 440 yards while Jesscuzican was the second-fastest qualifier at :20.938.

The Jose Muela-trained Feature Mr Who is the defending winner of the Bank of America Sunland Park Challenge after dominating last year’s running by 1 1/4 lengths. The 5-year-old gelding was then second in the $35,000 La Plata Stakes (G2) and fifth in the $353,500 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1).

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Burt Darian’s homebred 5-year-old Jesscuzican, from the Wes Giles barn, scored the 8-1 upset win in his Bank of America Sunland Park Challenge trial when he posted his first win since a non-qualifying win in a 2012 All American Derby trial.

Cody Cortez’s Motion Of The Ocean (Ocean Runaway-JC Show Time by This Snow Is Royal) was claimed for $7,500 last June and makes his stakes debut as the fastest-qualifier to the Bank of America Sunland Park Challenge. The Chris Zamora-trained gelding was disqualified after finishing first in his West Texas Maturity trial and then won his Bank of America Sunland Park Challenge trial by one length with a :20.903 time.

In the 300-yard New Mexican Spring Futurity for New Mexico-breds, Quemados Version (Winners Version-A Royal Lead by Sixes Royal) won his trial in his career debut with a 2 1/2-length romp. The colt was timed in :15.034 to join three other offspring of Winners Version in the top-five qualifiers.

Gary Thompson’s Dungarees Version (Winners Version-Forty One Special by Woodbridge) races for his third win from as many starts. The Emilio Cadena III-trained gelding won his maiden by a neck on March 1 and then stepped up to win his New Mexican Spring Futurity trial by three parts of a length. He was timed in :15.115.

The other Winners Version offspring are the fillies Winning Merlot (Winners Version-Marilyn Merlot by Dash Ta Fame) and Kays Version (Winners Version-Christinas Crystal by Mr Eye Opener).

Debra and Joseph Meridyth’s Winning Merlot was awarded first place in her trial after Currie Maben’s Kays Version crossed the finish line first by a nose and was disqualified and placed second. Winning Merlot was timed in :15.144 and Kays Version’s time was adjusted to :15.145 after the disqualification.

Gary Thompson’s Jess Bordeaux (Jesse James Jr-Bridgette Bordeaux by Blushing Bug), also trained by Cadena, scored in his trial by one length with the third-fastest time of :15.144 in his debut.

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