Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, March 17, 2018
by Eric Alwan
Tilla Cat wins $85,000 La Coneja Handicap
The fast Tilla Cat picked up her second lucrative stakes win of the meet by winning the $85,000 La Coneja Handicap with a breathtaking stretch run on Saturday at Sunland Park Racetrack Casino and Hotel.
Under a patient ride from Tracy Hebert, Tilla Cat closed far off a hot pace in the five and one-half furlong feature for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares. The winner of the $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap from opening weekend launched her bid from seventh place, at least 5 lengths off the leaders.
Tilla Cat picked up her tempo on the far turn and circumnavigated the field coming into the stretch. The daughter of Attila’s Storm powered past the embattled Rappakuba in deep stretch and won by a half-length in a time of 1:03.69. The former front running type has developed a new gear in coming off the pace for trainer Todd Fincher. She was a fast closing second to Citizen Geller in the recent Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap racing against the boys. The 2-1 second choice paid $6.80 to win.
Certainly in the prime of her racing career, the five-year-old New Mexico-bred mare has won 6 times with 7 seconds and 8 thirds from 25 starts. She earned $51,000 on Sunday for owners Dale Taylor, R. Lewis, J. Brooks and D. Hubbard. Her massive bankroll swells to nearly $370,000.
Rappakuba was seeking her sixth straight win dating back to March 21, 2017 here at Sunland Park. She and jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr forced the pace from her outside draw and willingly to the lead in upper stretch. The fast pace of 21.62 and 44.73 seconds may have blunted her stretch attack. Her win streak was snapped following a bravura performance from Tilla Cat. The post time favorite earned $17,000 for second place.
Explosive Spy, a near 68-1 longshot, ran boldly in the final quarter mile to gain third place. She was only beaten one and one-half lengths.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography