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New Mexico-breds in spotlight this weekend at Ruidoso Downs

Quarter horses and thoroughbreds will battle for nearly $1 million in purses
Bye Bye Matty P cruises home to a 2 ½ length victory in the $100,000 Jack Cole Handicap April 22 at SunRay Park and Casino. (Victor Salazar – Coady Photography)

RUIDOSO – Some of the top state-bred quarter horses and thoroughbreds will compete in a variety of stakes races on Saturday and Sunday during the annual Zia Festival at Ruidoso Downs.

In addition to Sunday’s Grade 1, $386,000-added Zia Quarter Horse Derby, the weekend will also be headlined by Saturday’s Grade 2, $205,000-added Zia Quarter Horse Derby.

In all, 10 stakes races featuring some of the best horses bred in New Mexico with purse money nearing $1 million will be on the line during the weekend.

Sunday’s Grade 1, $386,720 Zia QH Derby features a field of 10 runners, all of which earned a spot in the starting gate when trials were held here on July 7. Call Me Jessiecartel, owned by Empire Racing and Pavon Racing LLC and trained by Eric Valenzuela, was the fastest qualifier when he raced 400 yards in a time of 20.007 seconds.

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The son of Jess A Chicks was bred by Mike Abraham and will be ridden on Sunday by Esgar Ramirez when they break from the rail in the 10-horse field. Call Me Jessiecartel has been installed as the 2-to-1 morning line favorite.

Despite riding Call Me Jessiecartel to victory on July 3 and earning the fastest qualifying time, jockey Sergio Becerra, Jr., instead will be aboard Young Emperor, also trained by Valenzuela.

Young Emperor was the ninth-fastest qualifier for the Futurity, racing 400 yards in a time of 20.187 seconds. Both Young Emperor and Call Me Jessiecartel were ridden by Becerra on the day of the trial heats. The son of Eye Am King, owned by Martin Ybarra, will break from post eight in the Futurity and is listed at 6-to-1 on the morning line.

Sunday’s Zia QH Derby will go as the 11th race and is scheduled to reach the starting gate at 4:54 p.m. The Sunday program will also feature the return of Corrina Corrina, one of the state’s most consistent fillies and mares when she returns from a three-month layoff in the $50,000 Lincoln Handicap for older fillies and mares racing 5 ½ furlongs.

Corrina Corrina outfinishes Bye Bye Brandi in the shadow of the finish line during the $100,000 Peppers Pride Handicap on March 5 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. (Victoria Salazar/Coady Photography)

Owned by Derrick W. Jenkins and trained by Gary Cross, Corrina Corrina has finished in the top three in all but one of 18 career starts and has amassed earnings approaching $456,000. She was a narrow second in her most recent start, in the $100,000 Foutz Distaff Handicap on April 9 at SunRay Park and Casino. Before that, the daughter of Mr. Trieste was a winner of the $100,000 Peppers Pride Handicap on March 5 at Sunland Park.

Slated to be ridden by Tracy Hebert, Corrina Corrina will be making her debut at Ruidoso Downs in the Lincoln Handicap and will break from post four in the eight-horse field. The Lincoln will go as the 10th race on the Sunday card, which will also be headlined by the $50,000 Road Runner Stakes and the $50,000 Zia 870 Championship. Sunday’s first post time is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Grade 2, $205,419 Zia QH Derby will feature the race’s fastest qualifier Cruzin for Chickz, trained by Wes Giles and scheduled to be ridden by Alan Hernandez. Listed at 9-to-2 on the morning line, Cruzin for Chickz worked his way into the starting gate when he raced 400 yards in a time of 19.781 seconds under Adrian Ramos when trials were held on July 8.

Cruzin for Chickz is a perfect 3-for-3 at Ruidoso Downs, including being awarded a win via disqualification two starts back in the $205,000 Mountain Top Derby. The son of Jess a Chicks has earned more than $176,000 while winning four times from seven career starts and will break from five in the 10-horse field

The role of morning line favorite for the Derby falls to Pick Your Pour, who was the third-fastest qualifier for trainer James J. Gonzales, II. Ricky Ramirez again will be aboard the son of Jesse James Jr. owned by Orlando Granillo, Asucena Mendoza and Rene Mendoza.

Pick Your Pour has won four of six career starts, all at Ruidoso Downs and has earned more than $228,000 in his career. As a 2-year-old, he won the Mountain Top Futurity and was third in the Zia QH Futurity. Pick Your Pour has been installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite and will break from post three in the Derby.

The Zia QH Derby will go as the 11th race on Saturday’s card and has a scheduled post time of 4:54 p.m.

Also headlining the Saturday card will be the $50,000 Sierra Blanca Stakes, for New Mexico-bred thoroughbreds racing 5 ½ furlongs. Bye Bye Matty P, a winner in three of his last four starts, including the Jack Cole Handicap at SunRay Park and Casino on April 22, is the 8-to-5 morning line favorite in the field of seven runners.

Trained by Andres Gonzalez and slated to be ridden by Christian Ramos, Bye Bye Matty P has earned more than $257,000 for owner Orlando Munoz while winning six times from 14 career starts. They will break from post six in the Sierra Blanca, which will go as the 10th race on the program.

Locally, fans can watch and wager on the races from Ruidoso Downs at SunRay Park and Casino. For more information on the Ruidoso racing season, visit RaceRuidoso.com.