Miracle Snow, Mighty Moonflash Score in Zia Festival

Ruidoso Downs hosts the first of the two-day event for New Mexico-breds.

Press Release

Ruidoso Downs on Saturday hosted the first day of the Zia Festival to celebrate New Mexico-breds with a full slate of stakes for Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses. The Zia Festival, which continues on Sunday with a 1 p.m. first post time, also features the grandstand filled with vendors offering their New Mexico-themed wares.

Following is a recap of the Quarter Horse stakes:

Zia Handicap (RG2)
Melvin Neugebauer’s incredible 10-year-old Miracle Snow defended his victory in last year’s Zia Handicap with a gallant late run to win this year’s $50,000 Zia Handicap by a game head over Jess Got Issues.

Making his 56th career start, Miracle Snow got a clean break from the starting gate and was in contention from the first jump. The West Giles-trained gelding then made a surge in the final few strides to secure his 16th career win. He also has 10 second-place finishes and 11 third-place runs. He pushed his career earnings to above $680,000 with the Zia Handicap win. The son of Dean Miracle covered the 400 yards in :19.324.

Miracle Snow battled to a nose win in last year’s Zia Handicap and came into this year’s renewal off a victory in the $45,000 Jim Drake Stakes at SunRay Park.

Joseph and Debra Meridyth Jr.’s Jess Got Issues came into the Zia Handicap off a pair of allowance wins at SunRay Park.

Third-place runner Rex Hill was three-quarters of a length back and was second to Miracle Snow in the Jim Drake.

Zia Derby (RG2)
Pierre and Leslie Amestoy’s homebred Mighty Moonflash took control of the $139,493 Zia Derby at the halfway point and went on to his third straight win.

Mighty Moonflash covered the 400 yards in :19.359 with Tanner Thedford aboard for trainer Ross Amestoy.

A gelding by First Moonflash, Mighty Moonflash won his maiden just two starts ago and then made leaps up the class ladder. He was the fastest qualifier to the Zia Derby with a :19.465 time and now is a stakes winner with his one-half length victory.

Bobby Simmons’ Foxy Moonflash finished second by another one-half length over Regal Racing Stables LLC’s Heza Wild Dragon.

Foxy Moonflash, trained by Sleepy Gilbreath, was the third-fastest qualifier with a one-length trial win in :19.584. It was the second career win for the daughter of First Moonflash.

Heza Wild Dragon, a gelding by Genuine Strawfly, won last year’s $357,000 Mountain Top Futurity (RG3) and was third in last year’s $409,000 Zia Futurity (RG1).

By By JJ Stakes
Santos Espinoza and Marc Jungers’ Stone Cold Diamond, a 10-1 outsider, ran away from his rivals in the $20,000 By By JJ for horses who did not qualify for the Zia Futurity, which will highlight Sunday’s program.

Joe Badilla Jr. was aboard for the 1 ½-length win in :19.733 for 400 yards.

The gelding by First Moonflash was easily the class of the field. He broke sharply from the starting gate and rolled to the easy win under a strong hand ride from Badilla.

A member of the Mike Joiner stable, Stone Cold Diamond won his maiden in his third start in the By By JJ. The improving gelding was fifth in his Mountain Top Futurity trial and then third in his Zia Futurity trial.

Essencia finished second by a neck over Heza Winning Version.

Zia 870 Championship (R)
The Thoroughbred Beau Wizer ran down the Quarter Horse Storm Chasor to score his fourth-straight win in the $50,000 Zia 870 Championship.

Joan Dale Hubbard’s homebred Storm Chasor took the lead with a sweeping move on turn, however was unable to hold off the late rush of MCM Racing LLC’s Beau Wizer.

Beau Wizer finished 1 ½-lengths ahead of Storm Chasor while the Quarter Horse Lionett finished third, another 2 ¾ lengths back.

Ridden by Casey Lambert, Beau Wizer was timed in :45.471 for the 870 yards.

Beau Wizer started his winning streak back in April at Sunland Park with a dominating win in an optional-claiming race at 6 ½ furlongs. The Weston Martin-trained gelding then won back-to-back 870-yard allowance races at Ruidoso Downs.

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