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Zia Futurity, Derby Trials headline strong weekend cards at Ruidoso

Call Me Jessiecartel, Cruzin For Chickz earn roles as fastest qualifiers for state-bred stakes races
Call Me Jessiecartel and jockey Sergio Becerra, Jr. cross the finish line ahead of his rivals in the 12th and final trial heat for the Zia Futurity on Friday, July 7, 2023 at Ruidoso Downs. The Eric Valenzuela trainee has earned the role of fastest qualifier for the race.

RUIDOSO – Call Me Jessiecartel, a 2-year-old New Mexico-bred gelding, broke sharply and pulled away in the final yards to win the 12th and last trial race of the day for the $386,720 Zia Futurity at Ruidoso Downs racetrack becoming the fastest qualifier for the race, scheduled for Sunday, July 23.

Owned by Empire Racing and Pavon Racing and trained by Eric Valenzuela, Call Me Jessiecartel ran the 400-yards in 20.007 seconds under jockey Sergio Becerra, Jr. to earn the role as the Futurity’s fastest qualifier.

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“This horse has been consistent from the start,” Becerra said in the winner’s circle. “We’ve learned how to break and get down the race track together in a hurry.”

Sent off as the overwhelming post time favorite, Call Me Jessiecartel paid $2.80 to his winning backers.

Call Me Jessiecartel is sired by Jess a Chicks out of the mare Lilly Cartel by Corona Cartel. The Zia Futurity will mark a third stakes appearance for the gelding having finished second in the Mountain Top Futurity on June 18 and finishing ninth in the New Mexico Spring Futurity at Sunland Park on April 1.

Cruzin For Chickz and jockey Adrian Ramos score a narrow victory in a trial race on Saturday, July 8, 2023 and earns the role as fastest qualifier for the Zia Derby. (Ruidoso Downs)
Cruzin For Chickz top qualifier for Zia Derby

Cruzin For Chickz and jockey Adrian Ramos took control early and held off the rest of field to win the sixth trial of the Saturday card at Ruidoso to become the fastest qualifier for the $205,419 which will be held on Saturday, July 22.

Owned and bred by Curtis Crenwelge, Jim Laird and Jose Espinosa, Cruzin For Chickz is trained by Wes Giles who is looking for his second straight winner in the Zia Derby. He scored a win in this event last year with River Flash. Giles, with 13 wins on the season, is currently third, behind Heath Taylor and Eric Valenzuela in the quarter horse trainer standings.

“He likes to train and do his job,” Giles said of the winner. “He’s been first or second every time he’s been in the gates thus far and has a very business-like attitude about it all.”

Cruzin For Chickz won the Mountain Top Derby via disqualification on June 17 and has chance to earn his fourth straight win in the Zia Derby. Prior to the Ruidoso season, he finished second in the New Mexico Spring Futurity at Sunland Park in 2022 as a 2-year-old.

Cruzin For Chickz ran the 400 yards in a final time of 19.78 seconds. A son of Jess A Chicks out of the mare Zoobie Cartel, Cruzin For Chickz was sent off as the odds-on favorite in the trial heat and paid back $3.20 to his winning backers.

For more information about the live racing season at Ruidoso Downs, visit the track’s official website at RaceRuidoso.com.