The mixed meet at Sunland Park is gearing up for several big Quarter Horse stakes as well
as their premier. Thoroughbred event, the $800,00 Sunland Derby, a prep race for the Grade 1, Kentucky Derby.
Sunland Park recently announced a schedule change to feature Quarter Horse racing on Friday afternoons. Effective January 27, the New Mexico racetrack will be offering all-Quarter Horse programs on Fridays. With the change, Sunland Park’s Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday cards will consist exclusively of Thoroughbred racing. Quarter Horse stakes originally scheduled for weekends will be run after the last Thoroughbred race that day.
The Friday, February 17 program will be an excellent card for Quarter Horse players. Full fields are entered in each of the nine races with three trials for the West Texas Maturity (G2) set as the seventh, eighth and ninth of the afternoon. Each will be run at the distance of 400 yards.
The first trial features Rattle N Battle, a son of Apollitical Jess, who will be ridden by 2016 AQHA champion jockey Esgar Ramirez. Jess B Heroic, who has not raced since finishing ninth in the Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park and The Lizzard King, who is on the verge of $200,000 in earnings, are also in that heat.
In the eighth race, KOFX Handicap runner-up Stick Shift Sc and defending champion, Once Over, an 8-year-old son of Walk Thru Fire, appear to have an edge, but the veteran Klassic Strawfly has an excellent record at Sunland Park.
The final trial includes Tf Im That Guy, who ran third in the 2015 All American Futurity and Texas invader Gbh Gunsmoke, who will break from the far outside post. It will be an interesting test for May be Fantastic Sa and jockey Emilio Tapia, who ship in off two stakes wins in Arizona.
The ten fastest qualifiers will return on March 10 in the final.
Friday’s post time is 1:30 p.m. (MT).