Four Rivers/John Deere Stakes

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Sunday, January 05, 2019
by Eric Alwan

Ancient Land rallies to impressive win in $100,000 Four Rivers/John Deere Stakes

Jockey Luis Contreras put on a dazzling display of skill, rallying between rivals at the head of the lane and putting away his competition aboard Ancient Land in Sunday’s 20th running of the $100,000 Four Rivers/John Deere Stakes at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Owned by Martin Riley, D. Carroll, C. Scott and J. Howard and trained by Casey Lambert, Ancient Land got a ground-saving trip under Contreras in the 6-furlong affair, allowing dueling leaders On A Warpath and Franchise Tagged to do battle through an opening quarter mile of 45.56 seconds. Contreras was able to split horses while making up ground around the far turn, assumed position alongside a stubborn Franchise Tagged ridden by Shane Laviolette before eventually putting away his main rival approaching the wire.

Ancient Land scored by a half-length, completing the 6 furlongs in a final time of 1 minute, 11.16 seconds.

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Sent off as the second choice at odds of 3.70-to-1 on the tote board, Ancient Land returned $9.40 to his winning backers.

Ancient Land has now won two stakes in a row, having won the Steve Prather Stakes at Zia Park last month. Sunday’s triumph in the Four Rivers John Deere Stakes is the fourth career win from nine starts for the New Mexico-bred son of Monterey Jazz. The $60,000 winner’s share of the purse pads his lifetime earnings to more than $169,900.

Franchise Tagged held on well for second, completing a $62.80 return for $2 exacta players. He was three-quarters of a length in front of Stormin Fast, who checked in for the third place spot ahead of Jim Edd Who, rounding out the top four.

Cerveza, ridden by Roimes Chirinos, wound up going off as the 2.40-to-1 post time favorite. He raced far back early and was never a factor, finishing ninth in the 11-horse field.

Live racing resumes Tuesday at Sunland Park with an all-thoroughbred program which has a first post time of 12:25pm. Next week, racing picks up on Friday and continues through the weekend with Saturday’s featured event being the 20th running of the $100,000 Lou Wooten and Sydney Valentini Handicap, for New Mexico bred quarter horse fillies and mares racing 400 yards. Cat Daddys Little Girl is the 3-to-1 morning line favorite for trainer Cynthia Gonzalez and jockey Mauro Salcedo.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography