A trio of strong stakes races headline today’s closing day program at SunRay Park and Casino, with more than $210,000 being offered in prize money to the sport’s top stars.
Thoroughbred stakes will be featured in the $45,000 Dr. O.G. Fischer Memorial Handicap, followed by the $75,000 San Juan County Commissioner’s Handicap.
Those two races will then be followed up by one of the richest quarter horse races of the meet, the Four Corners Futurity, which features a purse of more than $96,000.
Once again, championships will also be recognized on closing day for both thoroughbred and quarter horse categories. Trainer Justin Evans will once again be named as the leading thoroughbred trainer, coming into today’s program with 24 wins, 10 more than Dick Cappellucci, followed by Sherry Armstrong and Todd Fincher.
Jesus Carrete’s 12 quarter horse wins this season will be good enough to be named as top trainer among the shortliners, three ahead of Wes Giles. Meantime, an intriguing race will be decided among quarter horse riders, with both Alejandro Medellin and Daniel Amaya tied atop the standings with 12 wins, while Alsono Rivera comes into the final day with 10 wins.
Alfredo Juarez, Jr. once again dominated the local thoroughbred jockey standings. He comes into the final day of racing with 38 winners, twice as many as his nearest rival Elvin Gonzalez and nearly three times as many as Enrique Garcia and Isaias Enriquez, who each rode 13 winners this season.
The final day of racing this season has a first post time of 1:15 this afternoon with the stakes action set to begin with the O.G. Fischer Handicap at 3:39 p.m.
‘Stella favored in Fischer
My Sweet Stella has been installed as the morning line favorite in Sunday’s 7th race, the $45,000 Dr. O.G. Fischer Memorial Handicap, for older fillies and mares racing 7 furlongs.
A two-time winner from 16 career starts, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Eskendereya, will be making her 2018 debut in the Fischer, and will be looking to end a four-race losing streak in this spot.
Making her SunRay Park for new trainer Henry Dominguez and slated to be ridden by SunRay Park’s leading thoroughbred jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr., My Sweet Stella was last seen in the winners circle nearly a year ago, after scoring a victory against optional claimers at Churchill Downs on June 24. Since that time, she’s finished second in two races and was well-beaten in another pair.
Prior to coming to New Mexico under the care of Dominguez, My Sweet Stella had been trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
Listed at 4-to-5 on the morning line and breaking from post 5 in the field of six, she’s been in steady training of late at Ruidoso Downs.
The second choice on the morning line for the Fischer is Merlin’s Jewel, trained by Larry Chavez and scheduled to be ridden by Isaias Enriquez.
In three starts this year, the daughter of Drosselmeyer has yet to finish better than third. She was a well-beaten seventh in her seasonal debut last March at Sunland Park, before a well-beaten third place effort locally in the Budweiser Stake on April 30th and a fourth place finish in the First Lady Handicap at Ruidoso Downs on June 3.
A three-time winner from 12 starts, Merlin’s Jewel does own a win over this course. She won an entry-level allowance here last year, before coming back with a win in the Petticoat Stakes last summer at Albuquerque Downs.
Merlin’s Jewel will break from post 4 in the Fischer and has been listed at 2-to-1 on the morning line.
Oh So Regal headlines Commissioner’s
The $75,000 San Juan County Commissioner’s Handicap, the richest thoroughbred race of the season, has attracted a field of six older runners, with recent Sunland Park Handicap winner Oh So Regal headlining the cast.
Trained by Miguel Hernandez and slated to be ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., Oh So Regal drew the rail for the 1 1/8 mile event, and has been installed as the 4-to-5 morning line favorite. The son of Sidney’s Candy posted a mild upset two starts back when winning the $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap by four lengths.
Oh So Regal came back to the races three weeks later and disappointed in the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Fans of Oh So Regal should take note that the winner of that race, Bee Jersey, came back to score in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile last weekend at Belmont Park.
Oh So Regal is a three-time winner from 10 lifetime starts with earnings topping $146,000.
Pain and Misery comes into the Commissioner’s Handicap off a romping score last time out in the $75,000 Bosselman Pump and Pantry-Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner Park in Nebraska.
Slated to be ridden by Israel Hernandez for trainer Ed Kereluk, the son of Bob and John broke a four-race losing streak with his dominant score, his sixth win from 31 lifetime starts.
An earner of nearly $500,000 in his career, Pain and Misery has yet to win in three tries over this course, last time finishing a well-beaten third in this race behind Overland Park in 2017.
Pain and Misery will break from post 3 in the Handicap, which has a scheduled post time of 4:03pm MTN.
The second choice on the morning line is Deputy’s Echo, who will break from the outside post under jockey Duane Sterling.
Trained by Nancy Summers, Deputy’s Echo will be looking to snap a 5-race losing streak in the Commissioner’s Handicap as well as earn his first win over the course. The son of Badge of Silver has finished second three times in four starts at SunRay Park, most recently beaten less than a length in an allowance sprint behind Blue Azul, who also entered into this race.
Four Corners Futurity attracts ‘Fire
Wallace Johnson’s Shes Got Fire will likely go to the gate as the post time favorite in today’s Four Corners Futurity, coming off a dazzling debut effort and as the fastest qualifier for the 350-yard dash worth a purse of more than $96,000.
Trained by Justin Joiner, the Utah-bred daughter of Corona Cartel made a strong impression in her trial heat held on June 1, when she crossed the wire more than a length ahead of her rivals in a fast time of 17.54 seconds.
Shes Got Fire will be ridden once again by Felipe Garcia-Luna, much like she was in her debut. The pair will break from post 9 in the 10-horse field as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite.
The Futurity has a scheduled post time of 4:27 p.m.
Jmf Dasher could well be the one to beat, coming off a hard-earned victory in his trial win for trainer J.R. Gonzalez, Sr. The Texas-bred son of Tempting Dash has won two of four career starts, with his lone poor effort coming two starts back, finishing sixth in the West Texas Futurity last April at Sunland Park.
Alejandro Medellin will be back aboard Jmf Dasher in the Futurity, breaking from post 3 as the 7-to-2 second choice on the morning line.