Live Racing Begins – 60th Anniversary

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, December 22, 2018
by Eric Alwan

Sunland Park’s 60th season begins on Friday, Dec. 28


The 60th anniversary season at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino will begin full throttle on Friday, December 28 sparked by six stakes races in three days. The headliner next week is the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (Gr. 1) to be run at 440 yards on Sunday, Dec. 30.


Six stakes races slated for next weekend including the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park on Sunday, Dec. 30


2016 Championship at Sunland Park winner Jessies First Down will be the favorite and seeks to become the first Quarter Horse since Go Man Go and Shue Fly to be declared a 3-time World Champion. The 2-time World Champion is in the midst of a stellar year winning the Remington Park Invitational in record time and the Downs at Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship. The 7-year-old bay gelding by Fdd Dynasty holds 18 wins from 37 career starts and has a bankroll nearing $1.5 million. Owned by Ted Abrams, he is considered one of the all-time great Quarter Horses. Rodrigo Vallejo rides for trainer James Padgett.

Jessies First Down drew the #9 post position for the 9th race. Zia Park Championship winner Major Bites along with Apolltical Chad and Jess Bein the Hero are also competing in the 18th running of the Championship at Sunland Park.

Mamacita Cartel is an early favorite for next Sunday’s $85,000 Lou Wooten and Sydney Valentini Handicap for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares racing 400 yards in the 8th race. Coming off a win in the New Mexico Fillies and Mares Championship and a second place in the New Mexico Cup Classic Championship, Mamacita Cartel appears tough to handle in the distaff feature.


Three big Thoroughbred stakes next Saturday


Three impeccable Thoroughbred stakes races make up the menu on next Saturday’s program. The $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap (7th race), the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap (8th race) and the $85,000 Johnie L. Jamison Handicap (9th race) are terrific betting races with full fields.

Todd Fincher’s red hot stakes winner Bryn’s Fancy Pants is in top form fresh off a stakes win at Zia Park. Explosive Spy, Susans Violette and Fast Gator are both enjoying strong 2018 campaigns. These four females will provide plenty of fireworks in the New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at five and one-half furlongs.

Hardcore Troubador and Minister of Soul are two fast sprinters shipping in for the KLAQ Handicap at 5 furlongs. Hardcore Troubador faced Breeders’ Cup horses in his last test at Los Alamitos while Minister of Soul comes off a 10-1 upset win at Turf Paradise in the Luke Kruytbosch Stakes.

A field of 10 converges in the Jamison Handicap going six and one-half furlongs. Multiple stakes winners Blazing Navarone, D E Lover, Thunder Dome, Shining Source and Go For a Stroll are just a part of the talent rich field


Friday’s $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap (9th race) at 400 yards packs a huge punch as well. The probable favorite is the 2017 All American Futurity runner-up Bigg Daddy who races for trainer Wes Giles. Bigg Daddy won last summer’s Zia Derby at Ruidoso Downs and will be ridden by Adrian A. Ramos. Bigg Daddy has earned nearly $750,000 from 7 career wins.

New Mexico Classic Cup Derby winner Jesse Lane, Percyjones and Magnifico Dragon are also running in the Jess Burner.


Post time on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday is 12:30 p.m. Live racing at Sunland Park takes place on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday basis through Sunday, May 5, 2019. Post time for the season is 12:30 p.m. Nine races will be carded each day except on weekend days presenting Quarter Horse stakes where there could be 10 to 11 races.