Trio of Stakes + Pegasus World Cup

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, January 25, 2019
By Eric Alwan


Champagne Room pulls a stunner in $226,200 Shue Fly


Rallying on the far outside under jockey Alonso Rivera, longshot Champagne Room picked up the biggest score in her career, winning the 48th running of the $226,200 Shue Fly Stakes for owners MJ Farms and trainer James Padgett.

Dismissed by many at odds of 24.60-to-1, Champagne Room ran down the post time favorite Donelli just yards in front of the wire to win by a neck, completing the 400 yards in a time of 19.37 seconds, good enough to earn a 92 figure in the Equibase Speed Index. Her winning backers were rewarded with a $51.20 payoff.

Champagne Room – The Shue Fly – 2020Champagne Room – The Shue Fly – 2020Champagne Room – The Shue Fly – 2020

A 3-year-old filly by Big Daddy Cartel, Champagne Room earned a spot in the starting gate for the Shue Fly when finishing second to Jess Tequila Talkin, who was the fastest qualifier when trials were held here on Jan. 3. Prior to that, Champagne Room’s most notable performances were a trial win at the Downs at Albuquerque last summer and a maiden win last May at Ruidoso Downs.

The victory in the Shue Fly was worth more than $106,000, increasing Champagne Room’s lifetime earnings to more than $117,500.

Donelli, who was sent off as the 8-to-5 post time favorite in the Shue Fly, held on for the place, ensuring a $211.60 return on investment for $2 exacta players. Jess Tequila Talkin saved the show while Jess Featured Girl closed out the top four.


Chief Cicatriz takes top honors in $75,000 Ft. Bliss Stakes


Under constant pressure from all challengers, Chief Cicatriz once again came out on top, narrowly winning the 16th running of the $75,000 Ft. Bliss Stakes, earning his fourth straight win and further stamping himself as one of the predominant sprinters in the southwest.

Owned by Roy Gene Evans and trained by Shawn Davis, Chief Cicatriz was handled brilliantly by jockey Francisco Arrieta, dueling on the lead with Major Munnings through an opening quarter mile in 22.12 seconds.

Chief Cicatriz – Ft. Bliss Stakes – 2020Chief Cicatriz – Ft. Bliss Stakes – 2020Chief Cicatriz – Ft. Bliss Stakes – 2020

Sent off as the 8-to-5 post time favorite, Chief Cicatriz next would face the challenge of multiple stakes winner Runaway Ghost, winner of the Gr. III 2018 Sunland Derby. Runaway Ghost came from off the pace and closed ground to the inside of the winner, coming up just short in his return to the races after an extended layoff.

Chief Cicatriz scored by a neck, racing 6 furlongs in 1 minute, 8.94 seconds and returning $3.20 to his winning backers.

A 7-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Munnings, Chief Cicatriz is the first two-time stakes winner this season at Sunland Park. He won the KLAQ Handicap here on opening day last December. His victory in the Ft. Bliss pads his career earnings to nearly $508,000 while winning for the 14th time in his 21-race career.

Prior to the KLAQ Handicap, Chief Cicatriz had won the Zia Sprint Championship at Zia Park as well as the Luke Kruytbosch Stakes at Turf Paradise last November.

Runaway Ghost settled for second, ensuring a $10.40 return on the $2 exacta. The Todd Fincher-trained son of Ghostzapper was nearly a length clear of third place finisher Raagheb, while Articulator rounded out the top four finishers.


Ryansmanonthemoon pulls clear late in $100,000 Dona Ana Handicap


Exuding class from the opening of the gates and more than redeeming himself from a poor effort in his most recent start, Ryansmanonthemoon showed his dominance in winning the 4th edition of the $100,000 Dona Ana County Handicap under a heady ride from Mauro Salcedo.

The multiple stakes winning 4-year-old son of First Moonflash got out of the gate cleanly and loomed a major threat early in the 440-yard dash, gradually inching clear in the final 100 yards to win by 1 1/2 lengths as the heavy 4-to-5 betting choice.

Ryansmanonthemoon – Doña Ana County Handicap – 2020Ryansmanonthemoon – Doña Ana County Handicap – 2020Ryansmanonthemoon – Doña Ana County Handicap – 2020Ryansmanonthemoon – Doña Ana County Handicap – 2020

Ryansmanonthemoon crossed the finish line in a solid final time of 20.96 seconds, earning a solid 105 Equibase Speed Index figure and returning $3.60 to his winning backers.

Already a multiple stakes winner at Sunland Park, Ryansmanonthemoon was unlucky last time out to not have scored as the favorite in the Grade 1 Championship at Sunland Park on opening weekend last month. He broke poorly from the gate and wound up sixth as the post time favorite in that race. He won the Shue Fly Stakes and NMHBA Quarter Horse Stakes here last year and has now earned more than $410,000 while winning for the eighth time from 18 career starts.

Marcus Medallion, ridden by Adrian Ramos, finished up nicely to earn the place, ensuring a $35 payout for $2 exacta players. Freedom Flash earned the show with Jess A Satin Flash rounding out the top four.


2019 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) finalist Mucho Gusto wins $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational


Mucho Gusto, a third place finisher in the 2019 Sunland Derby (Gr. III), roared to wide open win in the $3 million Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Mucho Gusto – Sunland Derby – 2019Mucho Gusto – Sunland Derby – 2019Mucho Gusto – Sunland Derby – 2019Mucho Gusto – Sunland Derby – 2019

Under a well calculated ride from Irad Ortiz, Jr., Mucho Gusto exploded from off the pace to win the one mile and one eighth feature in a time of 1:48.85. Bob Baffert’s charge went off at 3-1 odds. The speedy four-year-old trounced Mr Freeze and War Story who finished second and third, respectively. Mucho Gusto was third behind Cutting Humor and Anothertwistafate in last year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III). The 2020 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) worth $700,000 will be run on Sunday, March 22.


Live racing resumes tomorrow with another stakes tripleheader, headlined by the 57th edition of the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby and the 23rd running of the $65,000 Borderplex Stakes, both of which serve as stepping stone races on the road to the Sunland Derby and Sunland Oaks respectively. Also featured on the Sunday program is the 18th running of the $100,000 Johnie L. Jamison Handicap for New Mexico-bred older thoroughbreds. First post time for the Sunday program is 12:25 p.m.


Photo Credit: Coady Photography