Four Terrific Stakes Races on Opening Weekend

Dec 12, 2016

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Monday, December 12, 2016
by Eric Alwan

Redneck Humor returns for $65,000 KLAQ Handicap on Saturday
Klassic Strawfly and Osbaldo collide on Saturday in $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap
Diabolical Dame stars in $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap Sunday
D E Lover tops $85,000 Johnie L. Jamison Handicap on Sunday

The 58th live racing season at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino begins on Friday and the opening weekend looks outstanding propelled by four big money stakes races.

On Saturday, Redneck Humor returns to his favorite track and should be one of the favorites for the 27th running of the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap (8th race) at 5 furlongs. Last season, Redneck Humor beat a stellar field including stablemate Dirt Monster to win the 2016 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes for trainer Justin Evans who has won four straight Sunland Park Thoroughbred training titles. Redneck Humor is one of the more accomplished sprinters in the southwest having won 5 races from 9 tries. Sunland Park’s leading rider Ry Eikleberry will be in the saddle.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro is shipping in Storm Power for the Sunland sprint feature. A winner of nearly a quarter million dollars, Storm Power is most recently stakes placed in two straight races at Turf Paradise. He won stakes races at Canterbury Park in Minnesota and Prairie Meadows in Iowa earlier this year. He is well equipped with a powerful closing punch and would relish a fast pace up front. The talented Jorge Carreno will ride.

The unbeaten Chief Cicatriz rates prominently having won all three of his career starts. Those three wins have come at Zia Park for trainer Shawn Davis. The Munnings gelding should prompt a lively early pace. Alfredo Juarez, Jr. gets the call. Conquest Nitro, Indexical and Fork and Dagger are also part of the KLAQ Handicap field.

Defending champion Osbaldo collides with the blazingly fast Klassic Strawfly in the 20th running of the $85,000 Jess Burner Memorial Handicap (3rd race) on Saturday at 400 yards.

Osbaldo was a winner at Albuquerque last fall and came in third to Klassic Strawfly in the $170,000 New Mexico Cup Classic Championship on Oct. 30. He carries a record of 12 wins from 40 starts and a bulky bankroll of nearly $453,000.

Klassic Strawfly is likely to go favored in the Jess Burner simply because he has been unstoppable for months. The incredible 10-year-old Quarter Horse has won five straight races including lucrative stakes wins at Zia Park, Albuquerque and SunRay Park. Miguel Castillo trains the fast old-timer with earnings topping $564,000. Clutch rider Alejandro Medellin retains the mount.

Sunday’s card might be even stronger with the $85,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap (8th race) and the $85,000 Johnie L. Jamison Handicap (9th race).

Diabolical Dame, the leading New Mexico-bred Thoroughbred filly, will be very tough to beat in the New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at 6 furlongs. Todd Fincher’s star four-year-old has frequently trounced New Mexico-breds across the state including a 6-length triumph in the New Mexico Cup Sprint Distaff at Zia Park last October. She has won 11 times from 18 starts and is closing in on $440,000 in earnings. Tracy Hebert, a former leading rider in Louisiana, is the jockey and suits her perfectly.

Tilla Cat, Bryn’s Fancy Pants and Tijuana will help make up a powerful armada of runners trained by Fincher.

Defending champion My Bikini Fell Off is also in the mix for trainer Bart Hone and local owner Brian Mundell.

The razor sharp multiple stakes winner D E Lover leads a solid field of 12 runners in the Johnie Jamison Handicap at six and one-half furlongs. Trained by All American Futurity winner conditioner Tony Sedillo, D E Lover has thrived in 2016 and dominated his foes through a stellar campaign. He has won 5 of his last 7 starts including wins in the Sierra Blanca Handicap and Ruidoso Thoroughbred Championship and New Mexico Cup Sprint at Zia Park. The New Mexico-bred five-year-old son of So Long Birdie is in the midst of a career year and should love the distance. Frank Reyes rides the probable favorite.

Not My Note and Citizen Geller are both top notch New Mexico-bred sprinters and enter the Jamison Stakes with multiple wins over D E Lover this year. These two add further intrigue to the race.

Ten Penny Cents looms large following a dramatic come from behind win in the New Mexico Cup Derby Championship at Zia Park. Last spring, he finished second to Concord Fast in the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby against open company.

Live racing begins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. Nine races are planned each day.

Two special Wednesday programs will be carded on Dec. 21 and Dec. 28. There will be no live racing Saturday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) or Sunday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day).