Albuquerque Closing Weekend

The track will pay $1.25 million in purses this weekend.

Edited press release

Vance Mikkelson's Princess Jesse, the fastest qualifier, is one of 10 state-bred sophomores entered back in Sunday's New Mexico State Fair Derby at Albuquerque Downs. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Albuquerque Downs will close its 2016 racing season with a bang this weekend, as the track will pay out a track-record total of $1.25 million in purses on Saturday and Sunday.

The Downs’ closing weekend action consists of 22 races, including five stakes, four for Quarter Horses and one for Thoroughbreds. Racing secretary Jim Collins has put together two programs that should be popular with handicappers and casual racing fans alike, as a total of 209 horses have been entered in the 22 races, meaning that (before any late scratches) field sizes will average 9.5 horses per race, above the national average.

The Downs’ traditional final race of the meet, the 1 13/16-mile Con Jackson Claiming Stakes -- one of North America’s longest Thoroughbred races -- didn’t draw enough entries and won’t be run this year, but Collins created a race with a unique twist to close out the season. Sunday’s finale, the 6-furlong “Bet the Gray at the End of the Day” race is restricted to Thoroughbreds that are gray or roan in color and has drawn a field of 10, all of whom are entered for a $6,250 claiming tag.

Saturday’s penultimate card at The Downs consists of 11 races, topped by the 71st running of the New Mexico State Fair Futurity (RG3) for state-bred 2-year-old Quarter Horses, one of the sport’s oldest continuously run stakes races. First post time for Saturday’s program is 6:05 p.m. (MDT).

Four stakes will spice up the closing-day program: the 6-furlong, $170,525 New Mexico State Fair Thoroughbred Futurity (R) for state-bred 2-year-olds; the 400-yard, $171,070 New Mexico State Fair Derby (RG3) for state-bred 3-year-olds; the inaugural running of the 400-yard, $224,558 La Fiesta Futurity for 2-year-olds; and the second running of the 440-yard, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship.

Sunday’s card gets underway at 1:30 p.m.

Reigning American Quarter Horse Association champion jockey Ricky Ramirez will be at Albuquerque Downs on Sunday to ride Carson City Girl in the New Mexico State Fair Derby, A Fancy La Jolla in the La Fiesta Futurity, and Bringin The Gray in the Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship. Cody Jensen, the AQHA champion jockey in 2013 and ’14 has mounts aboard First Moon Fire in the New Mexico State Fair Derby and Kitty Kiernan in the La Fiesta Futurity.

Following is an in-depth preview of all four Quarter Horse stakes races to be contested this weekend at Albuquerque Downs:

Purse: $241,168 -- 400 yards -- New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds

This race is one of the oldest continuously run Quarter Horse stakes, as its history dates back to its inaugural running in 1946. Past winners include American Quarter Horse Association champions Pelican (1946), Maddon’s Bright Eyes (’48), Black Easter Bunny (’51), Now I Know (’95) and First Moonflash (2007).

The rich history of the New Mexico State Fair Quarter Horse Futurity was the subject of racing journalist Ty Wyant’s Q-Racing Blog on the AQHA’s racing website. This year’s race will be headed by Scooters Debutant, a homebred filly trained by Donna McArthur for owner Joyce D. Erickson of Albuquerque. Scooters Debutante has earned $45,130 from five races, and her resume includes a third-place finish in the July 31, $409,000 Zia Futurity (RG1) at Ruidoso Downs.

Other contenders include White Russsian, the runner-up in the June 19, $81,549 Four Corners Futurity at SunRay Park in Farmington. The gelded son of Swissle Stick (TB) and 2009 champion 3-year-old filly Alice K White is trained by Javier Roman Jr. for owner Cuadra San Juditas LLC.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments -- Magnifico Dragon (Mauro Salcedo), Kendall James (Raul Herrera), A Sure First (Alfredo Sigala), Daddy Queen Cartel (Daniel Amaya), Moon River (Isaias Cardenas), White Russsian (Alonso Rivera), Scooters Debutant (Benito Baca), Aries Rising (Jose Luis Enriquez), Mitey Man (Edwuin Lujan), and Go Daddy Gone (Hector Aldrete).

Purse: $171,070 -- 400 yards -- New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds

Fastest qualifier Princess Jesse and second-fastest qualifier Chickaloni are among the 10 state-bred 3-year-olds entered back in this race.

A homebred daughter of Jesse James Jr owned and trained by Vance Mikkelson of Belen, New Mexico, Princess Jesse has won two graded stakes this season: the 350-yard, $85,000 Sunburst Stakes (RG3) at Sunland Park on April 3, and the 400-yard, $50,000 Zia Handicap (RG2) at Ruidoso Downs on July 31.

Chickaloni is trained by Larry Chavez for owners David Hinkins and Ross Hinkins of Orangevale, Utah. The gelded son of Jess A Chicks has earned $223,873 from 12 outs, and his six wins include a neck victory in last year’s 400-yard, $280,820 New Mexico Cup Futurity (RG2) at Zia Park.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments -- First Moon Fire (Cody Jensen), Luvthem Blazinchicks (Albert Medrano), Wahoo Raider (Jaime Leos), Princess Jesse (Alfredo Sigala), First Note Medley (Edwuin Lujan), Carson City Girl (Ricky Ramirez), JJ Jessies Girl (Jose Luis Enriquez), Jameson Jr (Adrian Ramos), Chickaloni (Jose Ortiz), and Sweet Splenda (J. Martin Bourdieu).

Purse: $224,558 -- 400 yards -- 2-year-olds

Machismo Moon, a half brother to New Mexico State Fair Derby contender Chickaloni and the fastest qualifier, drew the rail post as the gelded son of Heza Motor Scooter seeks his first career stakes victory.

Trained by first-year trainer Seth Ferguson for owners Ramon Alvarez, Joe Alvarez, and Ysabel Medrano, Machismo Moon is coming off of a three-quarter length victory in the last of three La Fiesta Futurity trials on September 10. The gelding has banked $81,070 from four races, and his season record includes a second-place finish, a half of a length behind winner Hot Indy Chick, in the July 31, $409,000 Zia Futurity (RG1) at Ruidoso Downs.

Other La Fiesta Futurity contenders include A Fancy La Jolla, a stakes-winning daughter of Fantastic Corona Jr racing for Currie J. Maben of Clovis, New Mexico, and trained by Jaime Aldavaz Sr. The filly will be stretching out in distance off of her 1 3/4-length win in the 350-yard, $81,549 Four Corners Futurity at SunRay Park near Farmington on June 19.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments -- Machismo Moon (Bonifacio Perez), BF Chasing Foose (Daniel Amaya), Rebelious (Adrian Ramos), Kitty Kiernan (Cody Jensen), Toretto (Raul Herrera), O What A Night (Alfredo Sigala), A Fancy La Jolla (Ricky Ramirez), Dash Ta Desirio (J. Martin Bourdieu), Just A Little Wagon (Cipriano Vidana), and JM Country Man (Jose Luis Enriquez).

Purse: $250,000 -- 440 yards -- 3-year-olds & older

One of the top older Quarter Horses in the country, multiple Grade 1 winner Zoomin Effortlessly, heads a full field of 10 sprinters in the second running of this stakes.

A 5-year-old gelding by Zoomin For Bux trained by Edelmiro Carrizales for owner Telesforo Perrett of Houston, Texas, Zoomin Effortlessly is coming off of a Ruidoso Downs summer season during which he scored a one-length victory in the 440-yards, $200,000 All American Gold Cup Stakes (G1) on September 4. Zoomin Effortlessly has earned $302,664 from four outs this season, and his resume includes wins in the 400-yard, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on January 3, and the 400-yard, $100,000 Leo Stakes (G1) at Remington Park on April 2.

TF Cajun Cartel prepped for this race with a neck victory in a 400-yard allowance-optional claiming dash at Albuquerque Downs on August 26. Racing for the Cajun Partnership from the barn of trainer Fernando Carrete, the 4-year-old Corona Cartel stallion has banked $110,385 this year, and his two wins in six starts include a one-length victory in the 300-yard, $50,000 Bob Moore Memorial Stakes (G2) at Remington Park on April 23.

JM Miracle will be making his first start since April 24, when the 4-year-old gelding by Volcom ran second, a neck behind winner Once Over, in the 400-yard, $99,704 West Texas Maturity (G2) at Sunland Park. The winner of the 2014 All American Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs, JM Miracle is trained by Shae Cox for Javier Marquez’s J & M Racing and Farm of Monahans, Texas, and he has earned $1,489,462 from 12 races.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey and weight assignments -- Fly Thru The Fire (Jose L. Alvarez, 120), Bringin The Gray (Ricky Ramirez, 121), JM Miracle (Manuel Gutierrez, 122), TF Cajun Cartel (Ruben Calderon, 124), Zoomin Effortlessly (Santos Carrizales, 126), Clear Winn (Jose D. Ruiz, 119), Alis Jumpn (J. Martin Bourdieu, 121), Glock (Raul Herrera, 123), GRC Justplainazoom (Albert Medrano, 119), and Osbaldo (Felipe Garcia-Luna, 122).

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Following is the first post-time schedule for live racing at Albuquerque Downs for the meet’s final four dates, September 21-25:

September 21, 23, 24: 6:05 p.m.
September 25: 1:30 p.m.

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