Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Saturday, December 31, 2022
Danjer comes through in the clutch to win $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (Gr. 1)
Under a strong ride from James Flores, Danjer rallied down the center of the track to post a convincing win in Saturday’s 21st running of the $350,000 Grade 1 Championship at Sunland Park.
Breaking smartly from the gate, the 6-year-old multiple stakes winning son of Fdd Dynasty raced close to the early lead before motoring to the front inside the last 200 yards. He held off a late run from KJ Desperado to win by three-quarters of a length, crossing the wire in a very fast final time of 20.62 seconds, just a shade off the 440-yard track and world record set by First Moonflash in 2009.
Danjer, trained by Dean Frey, who is also part of the ownership group with Downtime Enterprises LLC and Billy G. Smith, earned his fifth stakes win in 2022. He was victorious in stakes races across the country this year, including at Albuquerque Downs, Horseshoe Indianapolis, as well as Canterbury Park and Remington Park. Saturday’s win in the Championship at Sunland Park adds to his already impressive resume, as he has 20 wins from 33 career starts.
The $157,000 winner’ share of the purse pads Danjer’s career bankroll to more than $2,240,000. Sent off as the second choice on the board at odds of 8-to-5, Danjer returned $5.40 to his winning backers.
KJ Desparado closed well in the final yards but came up just short under rider Adrian Ramos. The son of Apollitical Jess nearly capped off a remarkable 2022 campaign with his seventh win of the year. Sent off as the 3-to-2 post time favorite, KJ Desparado finished his year having never finished worse than second in eight starts.
The $2 exacta with the top two finishers returned $10.
Flash Bak and Instygator rounded out the top four finishers.
Live racing will resume Sunday with a pair of thoroughbred stakes races on tap. A field of 11 New Mexico-bred sprinters will go to the gate for the 22nd running of the $100,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap, which will be followed by the 32nd running of the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap, featuring older horses racing five furlongs.
First post time for Sunday’s New Year’s Day card is set for 12:25 p.m. local time.