10-1 long shot Daddys Blushing won the $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap on the Friday opening day card of the 60th anniversary season at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
The 2017 Mountain Top Futurity winner was let go a large odds despite carrying a bankroll of nearly a quarter million dollars. Trained by Jackie Riddle, Daddys Blushing earned a hard fought head victory over both Percyjones and Mr Klee who dead heated for second place. Daddys Blushing and jockey Francisco Calderon beat some of the top New Mexico-bred Quarter Horses in training. The three-year-old son of Big Daddy Cartel was in striking range throughout the 400 yards and surged to the front just before the wire.
Last season at Sunland Park, Daddys Blushing placed in both the Shue Fly and NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes. His loyal supporters received $22.20 on a $2 win ticket on Friday.
Winning for the 6th time in 11 starts, Daddys Blushing earned nearly $51,000 for owner Gary Hartstack of Washington, Texas. The winner caught the distance in a time of 19.665 seconds. He has earned over $290,000 in two years of racing.
Percyjones and Mr Klee were inseparable at the finish. Both runner-ups ran too good to lose.
Jesse Lane was flying with the most momentum late but had to settle for a close fourth.
Bigg Daddy, runner-up in the 2017 All American Futurity, failed to muster any attack and was a well beaten sixth.
Live racing resumes on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Three impeccable Thoroughbred stakes races make up a strong program. The $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap (7th race), the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap (8th race) and the $85,000 Johnie L. Jamison Handicap (9th race) are terrific betting races with full fields.
Todd Fincher’s red hot stakes winner Bryn’s Fancy Pants is in top form fresh off a stakes win at Zia Park. Explosive Spy, Susans Violette and Fast Gator are both enjoying strong 2018 campaigns. These four females will provide plenty of fireworks in the New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at five and one-half furlongs.
Hardcore Troubador and Minister of Soul are two fast sprinters shipping in for the KLAQ Handicap at 5 furlongs. Hardcore Troubador faced Breeders’ Cup horses in his last test at Los Alamitos while Minister of Soul comes off a 10-1 upset win at Turf Paradise in the Luke Kruytbosch Stakes.
A field of 10 converges in the Jamison Handicap going six and one-half furlongs. Multiple stakes winners Blazing Navarone, D E Lover, Thunder Dome, Shining Source and Go For a Stroll are just a part of the talent rich field.
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2016 Championship at Sunland Park (Gr. 1) winner Jessies First Down returns on Sunday for the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park. He is the 8-5 morning line favorite and seeks to become the first Quarter Horse since Go Man Go and Shue Fly to be declared a 3-time World Champion. The 2-time World Champion is in the midst of a stellar year winning the Remington Park Invitational in record time and the Downs at Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship. The 7-year-old bay gelding by Fdd Dynasty holds 18 wins from 37 career starts and has a bankroll nearing $1.5 million. Owned by Ted Abrams, he is considered one of the all-time great Quarter Horses. Rodrigo Vallejo rides for trainer James Padgett.
Jessies First Down drew the #9 post position for the 9th race. Zia Park Championship winner Major Bites along with Apolltical Chad and Jess Bein the Hero are also competing in the 18thrunning of the Championship at Sunland Park at 440 yards.
Mamacita Cartel looks like a strong choice in Sunday’s $85,000 Lou Wooten and Sydney Valentini Handicap for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares racing 400 yards in the 8th race. Coming off a win in the New Mexico Fillies and Mares Championship and a second place in the New Mexico Cup Classic Championship, Mamacita Cartel appears tough to handle in the distaff feature.