Zia Derby Trials Draw 40 New Mexico-Bred Sophomores

Multiple graded stakes winner Running Dragon returns on Saturday at Ruidoso Downs.

New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association

Running Dragon, pictured here winning the April 1 Sunburst Stakes at Sunland Park, is one of 40 New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds entered in Saturday's Zia Derby trials. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Running Dragon, a multiple graded stakes winning daughter of Zulu Dragon racing for By By JJ LLC, is one of 40 New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds entered in Saturday’s 400-yard Zia Derby (RG2) trials at Ruidoso Downs.

Trained by Juan M. Gonzalez, Running Dragon has won four consecutive races and five of her last six outs. The homebred filly has won 10 of 12 starts, including five stakes, and she has earned $572,641. She will be making her first start since April 1, when she scored a wire-to-wire, half-length victory in the 350-yard, $85,000 Sunburst Stakes (RG3) for state-bred sophomore fillies at Sunland Park.

Running Dragon drew post 5 and will be ridden by Adrian Ramos in the first of four Zia Derby trials.

Daniel Balderrama’s Magnifico Dragon, a sorrel son of Zulu Dragon trained by Cynthia Gonzalez, drew post 3 and will be ridden by Mauro Salcedo in the third heat. Magnifico Dragon has banked $293,621 from 10 outs, and his five wins include a 1 3/4-length victory in last year’s 400-yard, $310,000 New Mexico Cup Futurity (RG2) at Zia Park.

Other prominent state-bred 3-year-olds entered in the Zia Derby trials include Terry and Irene Stennett’s Percyjones. A $35,000 yearling buy at the 2015 New Mexico-Bred Sale, the gelded son of Jesse James Jr returns to New Mexico from Oklahoma, where he scored a neck victory as the 6-5 favorite in a 350-yard, $18,000 allowance dash at Remington Park on May 27.

Percyjones has earned $165,650 from seven races, and his resume includes a third-place finish, a neck behind winner High Plains Perry, in last year’s 400-yard, $1-million Texas Classic Futurity (G1) at Lone Star Park. The gelding drew post 7 and will be ridden by Ricky Ramirez for trainer Trey Wood in the fourth trial.

The 10 fastest qualifiers will meet for a stakes-record $176,005 purse in the July 30 Zia Derby final.

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