Zia Festival Races Set for Sunday

The nine stakes include four for New Mexico-bred Quarter Horses

New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association

Bigg Daddy is one of 10 New Mexico-bred sophomores entered back in Sunday's Zia Derby at Ruidoso Downs. PHOTO: Gay Harris

Approximately $950,000 in stakes purses will be paid to the owners of New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses on Sunday, Zia Festival Day at Ruidoso Downs.

All 10 of the races on Ruidoso’s Sunday card will be restricted to New Mexico-breds. Nine of the 10 races are stakes, five for Thoroughbreds and four for Quarter Horses. Post time for the first race is set for 1 p.m. (MDT).

Following is a preview of the four Quarter Horse stakes, listed in the order they will be run:

ZIA 870 CHAMPIONSHIP (R)
New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds & older
Purse, $50,000 -- 870 yards
Astorga Racing LLC’s Big Spurs, a 4-year-old son of Big Daddy Cartel who competed at Remington Park during that track’s spring season, is one of eight state-bred Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds entered in this 870-yard test.

Big Spurs has made only one start at the 870 trip, and that resulted in a fourth-place finish, 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Jess A Hilbily Bone, in the April 5, $50,000 Pauls Valley Stakes (G3) at Remington. The stallion drew post 6 and will be ridden by Justin Shepherd for trainer Jesus Carrete.

Tag Yur It, a 6-year-old Roll Hennessy Roll (TB) gelding trained by Lauren Fincher for owner 3L Racing Partners, will be making his season debut from post 5 under jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. Tag Yur It is coming off of a 2017 campaign during which he scored a 1 1/4-length victory in the $140,000 New Mexico Cup 870 Championship (R) at Zia Park in October.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey and weight assignments and morning-line odds:
DM Nate Dog (Raul Herrera, 119), 15-1
Frank N Jesse (Esgar Ramirez, 121), 10-1
Weappear (TB) (Duane Sterling, 122), 6-1
Regards Miracle (Ricky Ramirez, 121), 8-1
Tag Yur It (Alfredo Juarez Jr., 124), 2-1
Big Spurs (Justin Shepherd, 124), 5-2
Super Quintons (L. Salvador Martinez, 120), 12-1
D E Wagons Strawfly (Frank Reyes, 123), 9-2

ZIA QUARTER HORSE HANDICAP (RG2)
New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds & older
Purse, $50,000 -- 400 yards
Hot Authorization and defending champion First Kool Moon head a field of 10 state-bred Quarter Horses entered in this 400-yard test.

Trained by Ricardo Armendariz for owners Sergio Holguin, Cliften Nielsen, and Felix Rodriguez, Hot Authorization will be making his first start since March 3, when the 7-year-old Corona Caliente gelding finished second, a half of a length behind winner Major Bites, in the 350-yard, $85,000 Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap (RG2) at Sunland Park. Hot Authorization drew post 4 and will be ridden by Raul Ramirez Jr.

First Kool Moon is a 4-year-old son of champion First Moonflash trained by Juan Carlos Gonzalez for owner Jose Luis Ozuna. The brown gelding has earned $67,940 from 13 outs in New Mexico and Texas, and his four wins include a neck victory in last year’s Zia Quarter Horse Handicap.

First Kool Moon drew post 9 and will be ridden by Tanner Thedford.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey and weight assignments and morning-line odds:
Cinco Menudos (L. Salvador Martinez, 119), 15-1
Princess Jessie Jane (Esgar Ramirez, 120), 10-1
Seeyalateralligator (G.R. Carter Jr., 124), 3-1
Hot Authorization (Raul Ramirez Jr., 122), 9-2
Mystic Daddy (Jose Amador Alvarez, 121), 6-1
Cartels Star Daddy (Raul Herrera, 119), 12-1
First Note Medley (Jose Enrique Ortiz, 118), 20-1
Dream Bigg (Frank Reyes, 118), 15-1
First Kool Moon (Tanner Thedford, 123), 7-2
Swiss White Wine (Jaime Parga Leos, 121), 8-1

ZIA QUARTER HORSE DERBY (RG2)
New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds
Purse, $190,937 -- 400 yards
Bigg Daddy, a graded stakes winning son of Big Daddy Cartel and champion Alice K White and the runner-up as the fastest qualifier in last year’s $3-million All American Futurity (G1), is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in this 400-yard stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds.

Trained by Wes Giles for owner Too For Too, Bigg Daddy made his sophomore debut with a three-quarter length victory as the 2-5 favorite in his Zia Derby trial on July 14. The sorrel gelding has banked $663,818 from nine races, and his five wins include a three-quarter length victory in last year’s 400-yard, $371,000 Zia Futurity (RG1).

Bigg Daddy drew post 8 and will be ridden by G.R. Carter Jr.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments and morning-line odds:
Vietti (Agustin Silva), 30-1
Amsterdams Big Daddy (Francisco Calderon), 20-1
Nolans Theory (Raul Ramirez Jr.), 12-1
Jesse Klee (Felipe Garcia-Luna), 8-1
First N Forever (Esgar Ramirez, 20-1
Siximoons (L. Salvador Martinez), 6-1
Flashy Tres (Ricky Ramirez), 15-1
Bigg Daddy (G.R. Carter Jr.), 9-5
Frankie James (Adrian Ramos), 9-2
Tempting Star Gazer (Cipriano Vidana), 7-2

ZIA QUARTER HORSE FUTURITY (RG1)
New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds
Purse, $409,680 -- 400 yards
Graded stakes winners Jess Fire Chick and Zee James are among the 10 state-bred 2-year-olds entered back in this race.

A homebred daughter of Jess A Chicks trained by Wes Giles for owners Mike Abraham and Paul Blanchard, Jess Fire Chick has won all three of her outs, including the 350-yard, $346,000 Mountain Top Futurity (RG3) at Ruidoso Downs on June 16. The filly has earned $149,975 while racing exclusively at Ruidoso.

Jess Fire Chick drew post 8 and will be ridden by Agustin Silva.

Zee James races for Robert M. Driggers and Ben Lee Ivey from the barn of Wes Giles. A homebred filly by Jesse James Jr, Zee James has banked $149,374 from four starts, and her three wins include a neck victory as the fastest qualifier and 7-5 favorite in the 300-yard, $396,000 New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) at Sunland Park in April.

Zee James will be ridden by Adrian Ramos from post 4.

The Zia Futurity is the richest race for New Mexico-bred Quarter Horses. The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments and morning-line odds:
Sister Sophia (Felipe Garcia-Luna), 15-1
June Bug Daddy (Tanner Thedford), 20-1
CD Mamas Boy (Jose Enrique Ortiz), 8-1
Zee James (Adrian Ramos), 3-1
Regard The Sevens (Ricky Ramirez), 9-2
Kunde (Raul Ramirez Jr.), 12-1
No Mires A La Luna (Rodrigo Vallejo), 10-1
Jess Fire Chick (Agustin Silva), 7-2
Midnite Blu (G.R. Carter Jr.), 6-1
Fireball Flash (L. Salvador Martinez), 15-1

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