Three stakes races, with purse money topping $210,000, will be a large part of the opening weekend of racing at the Downs at Albuquerque, which begins its 2018 season on Friday night.
The opening night featured event is the $50,000 Duke City Sprint, with a field of six older runners going 5 1/2 furlongs. The morning line favorite in the contest is Sphene, who will be looking to rebound off a poor performance last time out at SunRay Park as the 1-to-5 favorite.
Prior to that effort, the Kentucky bred son of Bodemeister was a well-meant runner-up in the Sunland Park Handicap last April. Trained by Miguel Hernandez for the Judge Lanier Racing Stables, Sphene will be handled once again by leading jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr., and will break from post 4 in the starting gate.
The Duke City Sprint will go as the fifth race on Friday's opening night program, which has a first post time of 6:05 p.m. The Sprint has a scheduled post time of 7:45 p.m. (MTN).
A two-time winner from five career starts, Sphene has earned more than $63,000 for his connections. He'll be looking for his first stakes victory in his initial start over the Albuquerque oval.
'Geller seeks three-peat in O.D. McDonald
State-bred older thoroughbreds will be in action on Saturday in the $70,000 O.D. McDonald Handicap, which attracted a strong field of 12 runners set to race 7 furlongs.
Shining Source, an earner of nearly $500,000, is the 5-to-2 morning line favorite in the McDonald.
An 11-time winner from 39 career starts, Shining Source will be looking for his second straight win and fourth from his last five starts.
The Blake Rust trainee scored a hard-fought win in the Jack Cole Handicap last month at SunRay Park and Casino, defeating several of his rivals in Saturday night's featured event. The son of Source was a multiple stakes winner at Sunland Park last season, picking up wins in the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap and the Johnie L Jamison Handicap.
Shining Source will break from post 6 under Elvin Gonzalez in the McDonald, which will go as the sixth race on the card and has a scheduled post time of 8:10pm (MTN).
Citizen Geller has been installed as the 7-to-2 second choice in the McDonald, and is looking to win this race for the third consecutive year.
A 5-year-old gelding owned by UKUSA Stables, Citizen Geller is named after Robert Geller, the track announcer at Sunland Park Woodbine near Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has four wins from six starts over this course and has earned more than $391,000 in his career. He will be ridden by Jansen Melancon.
'Fire may shine bright in Futurity
Sunday's featured event is the $96,589 Four Corners Futurity, which was rescheduled after having to be postponed from the closing day program last week at SunRay Park.
The Four Corners Futurity was originally scheduled to be run on June 17. Unsafe track conditions caused by a storms in the area forced SunRay Park management to cancel most of the races on its closing-day program, including the Four Corners Futurity.
A field of 10 juvenile shortliners will go in the Futurity, with Shes Got Fire listed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite. The daughter of Corona Cartel was an impressive winner in her debut, racing 350 yards in a swift 17.54 seconds when taking her trial effort at SunRay on June 1.
Trained by Justin Joiner for owner Wallace Johnson, Shes Got Fire will be ridden once again by Felipe Garcia-Luna and will break from post 9 in the Futurity, which will go as the sixth race of a 10-race card and has a scheduled post time of 3:35 p.m. (MTN).
The Downs at Albuquerque will be open for live racing Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with first post times each day at 6:05 p.m. (MTN) and Sundays afternoon programs at 1:30 p.m. through September 6 when the State Fair racing season begins.
For information on post times, racing schedules and more, check out the website right here.