Albuquerque Downs Closing Weekend Preview

The track will pay a track-record $1.5 million in purses this weekend.

Edited press release

Ted G. Abrams' Jessies First Down, pictured here winning the September 3, $200,000 All American Gold Cup, is one of seven runners entered in Sunday's 440-yard, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship. PHOTO: Gay Harris

Albuquerque Downs will close its 2017 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing season this weekend and will distribute a track-record total of $1,507,730 in purses on Saturday and Sunday.

The Downs’ closing weekend action consists of 21 races, 10 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday. There will be six stakes races, two on Saturday (first post time, 6:05 MDT) and four on Sunday (first post 1:30). Five of this weekend’s stakes will be for Quarter Horses, topped by Sunday’s 440-yard, $250,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship, which will for the first time in its three-year history offer its winner a berth to the December 16, $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos Racecourse near Los Angeles, Quarter Horse racing’s richest and most prestigious race for older horses.

This year’s closing-weekend purse total beats by 19 percent the previous record of $1,266,609 for 22 races set during last year’s closing weekend. First-year racing secretary Gerald Richards has assembled two programs that should be popular with handicappers and casual racing fans alike, as a total of 208 horses have been entered in the 21 races, meaning that (before any late scratches) field sizes will average 9.9 horses per race, well above the national average and above last year’s closing-weekend average of 9.5.

Saturday’s penultimate card at The Downs is topped by the 72nd 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.

Following are complete previews of the five Quarter Horse stakes to be contested this weekend at Albuquerque Downs:

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LA FIESTA QUARTER HORSE DERBY
Purse, $139,363 -- 440 yards -- 3-year-olds
(Saturday, September 23)

Ten 3-year-olds, topped by fastest qualifier JM Country Man, have been entered back in the inaugural running of the La Fiesta Quarter Horse Derby.

A gelded son of champion Mr Jess Perry trained by Cynthia Gonzalez for owner Javier Marquez’s J & M Racing and Farm of Monahans, Texas, JM Country Man is coming off of a half-length victory in the second of two trials on September 8. JM Country Man has earned $151,979 from 11 races, and his four wins include a one-length win at odds of 21-1 in last year’s inaugural running of the La Fiesta Futurity at Albuquerque Downs.

JM Country Man drew post 9 and will be ridden by Mauro Salcedo.

Trainer Justin Joiner will send out two finalists, including Kitty Kiernan. Owned by Patrick Guthrie, Billy G. Smith, Paul Blanchard, and Fred Grooms, the Oklahoma-bred daughter of champion FDD Dynasty ran second to JM Country Man in last year’s La Fiesta Futurity, and she was a finalist in the July 22, $1.15-million Rainbow Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs.

Kitty Kiernan drew post 10 and will be ridden by Cody Jensen.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
One Famous Ribbon (G.R. Carter Jr.)
Rainey Dash (Alfredo Sigala)
Highest Return (Agustin Silva)
Toretto (J. Martin Bourdieu)
Famouseagletime (Adrian Ramos)
Adore The Hero (Cipriano Vidana)
O What A Night (Isaias Cardenas)
Zenefit (Irving Delgado-Bustillos)
JM Country Man (Mauro Salcedo)
Kitty Kiernan (Cody Jensen)

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NEW MEXICO STATE FAIR QUARTER HORSE FUTURITY (RG3)
Purse: $289,993 -- 400 yards -- New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds
(Saturday, September 23)

This year’s New Mexico State Fair Quarter Horse Futurity will offer a purse of $289,993, an increase of 20 percent over last year’s purse of $241,168.

Fastest qualifier Osbaldo Blue Diamond, a homebred gray daughter of Osbaldo owned by Hubaldo Solis of Peralta, New Mexico, drew post 7 and will be ridden by Luis Apodaca for trainer Javier Roman Jr. The runner-up in the May 14, $110,213 New Mexico Breeders’ Futurity (RG3) at SunRay Park, the filly has won her last two outs, including the first of six trials on September 8.

Other contenders include Bennie A. Vanecek’s Jessa Diva, a daughter of Jesse James Jr trained by Fred Danley. A $15,000 yearling purchase at last year’s New Mexico-Bred Sale, the filly was a finalist in both of Ruidoso Downs’ New Mexico-bred futurities last summer, the 350-yard, $393,000 Mountain Top Futurity (RG3) on June 17, and the 400-yard, $371,000 Zia Futurity (RG1) on July 30.

Jessa Diva drew post 3 and will be ridden by Alfredo Sigala.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
Jess Hot (Agustin Silva)
Soxx Ar (Edgar Martinez)
Jessa Diva (Alfredo Sigala)
Bug Daddy Cartel (Isaias Cardenas)
Riverside Flash (Adrian Ramos)
Masons Moon (Alonso Rivera)
Osbaldo Blue Diamond (Luis Apodaca)
Jessies Gone (Jose Luis Enriquez)
Gone Fishin (Irving Delgado-Bustillos)
Hollywoodcrown (J. Martin Bourdieu)

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NEW MEXICO STATE FAIR QUARTER HORSE DERBY (RG3)
Purse: $167,166 -- 400 yards -- New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds
(Sunday, September 24)

Sophie Garcia, a filly by Big Daddy Cartel trained by Justin Joiner for owner Paul Blanchard of Albuquerque, heads a field of 10 state-bred 3-year-olds entered back in this race.

A $50,000 purchase at the 2015 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, Sophie Garcia set the fastest qualifying time with her nose victory in the first of three trials on September 10. The filly drew post 9 and will be ridden by Cody Jensen.

Hubaldo Solis’ A Super Sonic Boom, a stakes-winning homebred son of Big Daddy Cartel trained by Javier Roman Jr., finished second to Sophie Garcia in his trial. The gray colt has won two of seven starts, including last year’s New Mexico Breeders’ Futurity (RG3) at SunRay Park, and he has earned $62,299.

A Super Sonic Boom drew post 8 and will be ridden by Luis Apodaca.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
Metalica (L. Salvador Martinez)
Moon River (Isaias Cardenas)
Mamacita Cartel (Albert Medrano)
Woody Can Do (Jose Luis Enriquez)
Big Spurs (Agustin Silva)
Go Daddy Gone (Alonso Rivera)
Ms Klee (G.R. Carter Jr.)
A Super Sonic Boom (Luis Apodaca)
Sophie Garcia (Cody Jensen)
Hardtookiss (Cipriano Vidana)

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LA FIESTA QUARTER HORSE FUTURITY
Purse: $224,558 -- 400 yards -- 2-year-olds
(Sunday, September 24)

High Rate Of Motion, a Louisiana-bred son of High Rate Of Return racing for the High Rate Partners 2017 group, drew post 3 as the sorrel gelding seeks his first career stakes victory.

Trained by Justin Joiner and raced exclusively in New Mexico, High Rate Of Motion is coming off of a Ruidoso summer campaign during which he was a finalist in the June 11, $800,000 Ruidoso Futurity (G1). The gelding has earned $64,240 from five starts, and his race record includes a third-place finish, a half of a length behind winner Eagles Soar, in the 300-yard, $50,000 West Texas Juvenile Stakes at Sunland Park on April 15.

High Rate Of Motion drew post 3 and will be ridden by Cody Jensen. Joiner will also send out Seminole Senator, a stakes-winning gelding by Louisiana Senator, for owners Joe David Yates, Richard Young, Richard T. Sturdevant, and Terry Wootan. Seminole Senator has won two of six starts, including the June 18, 350-yard Four Corners Futurity at SunRay Park, and he has banked $45,263.

L. Salvador Martinez will ride Seminole Senator from post 5.

Fastest qualifier Strykr Force is coming off of a convincing 2 1/4-length victory in the second of four trials on September 9. The Washington-bred gelding by No Secrets Here is owned and trained by Jesus Carrete, who tops the Albuquerque Downs Quarter Horse trainer standings.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
Swankee (Roberto Meraz Jr.)
TF Carters Pick (Ricky Ramirez)
High Rate Of Motion (Cody Jensen)
Flash Cannon (Isaias Cardenas)
Seminole Senator (L. Salvador Martinez)
Flashionista (Mauro Salcedo)
Kiss My Ivory (Cipriano Vidana)
Legacist (G.R. Carter Jr.)
Mr Perrys Tres Seis (Jose A. Alvarez)
Strykr Force (Agustin Silva).

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ALBUQUERQUE FALL QUARTER HORSE CHAMPIONSHIP
Purse: $250,000 -- 440 yards -- 3-year-olds & older
(Sunday, September 24)

Jessies First Down, the reigning American Quarter Horse Association world champion, is one of seven older sprinters entered in this race, which will for the first time in its three-year history offer its winner a berth in the December 16, $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) at Los Alamitos.

Trained by Jimmy Padgett for owner Ted G. Abrams of Houston, Texas, Jessies First Down is coming off of a dominating 2 1/2-length victory in the 440-yard, $200,000 All American Gold Cup (G1) at Ruidoso Downs on September 3. The homebred 6-year-old gelding ended his championship campaign with a three-race win streak, all in Grade 1 stakes.

Jessies First Down drew post 2 and will be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo. Padgett will also send out Dutcher, a 5-year-old Apollitical Jess gelding, for owners Jumonville Farms and Brian Ranch. Dutcher will be making his first start since May 13, when he ran second, a neck behind winner Politically Corrupt, in the 440-yard, $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park.

Dutcher drew post 6 and will be ridden by Jose Alvarez.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey and weight assignments:
Carson City Girl (Alfredo Sigala, 121)
Jessies First Down (Rodrigo Vallejo, 127)
First Valiant Sign (G.R. Carter Jr., 122)
Hitta Big Lick (Jose Luis Enriquez, 119)
Rite Regal (Rodrigo Aceves, 124)
Dutcher (Jose A. Alvarez, 124)
TF Cajun Cartel (Ricky Ramirez, 120)

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