Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Trainer Todd Fincher saddles winners in all four stakes races on Tuesday
Henry Q rolls to demonstrative win in $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby
Flying Connection wins with authority in $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes
Thruthestorm rallies late to score in $100,000 Red Hedeman Mile
Cheese Tray proves best in $100,000 Albert and Henry Dominguez Memorial Handicap
Leading trainer Todd Fincher made history yet again at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, sweeping all four stakes races, including the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby with southern California invader Henry Q
The Del Mar Group’s Henry Q took a massive leap from maiden winner to stakes winner, posting an impressive score in Tuesday’s 22nd running of the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby, the second and final steppingstone race on the road to the Grade III $500,000 Sunland Derby on Sunday, March 26.
Trained by Todd Fincher and ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Henry Q controlled the pace from the start, racing to a length lead down the backstretch after an opening half mile in 46.92 seconds. That lead continued to grow into and around the far turn as the son of Blame drew off to a 14 3/4 length win in a fast final time of 1 minute, 41.52 seconds, less than a second off the track record for 1 1/16 miles set by Rebranded in 2015.
Henry Q broke his maiden in his third career start at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 4. Tuesday’s win is the second from four career starts and pads his bankroll to nearly $92,000.
Sent off as the 4-to-5 favorite, Henry Q returned $3.60 to his winning backers. Giroovin and jockey Felipe Valdez was a well-beaten second. The Fincher-trained exacta pairing the top two finishers paid $8.80. Wild On Ice finished third with Malmo rounding out the top four finishers. Morning line favorite How Did He Do That was scratched earlier in the day.
Should Henry Q opt to run in the Sunland Derby on March 26, Fincher would be seeking his second win in the event. Fincher won the Sunland Derby in 2018 with Runaway Ghost.
In other featured events on the Tuesday card, the Todd Fincher-trained Flying Connection rolled over her rivals, posting a dominant win in the 17th running of the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes.
Owned by the team of Brad King, G. Randy Andrews, G. Chris Coleman and Jim Cone, Flying Connection and jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr. had little trouble getting to the lead shortly after the start. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Nyquist opened up on her four rivals down the backstretch and continued to put distance between herself and the rest of the field turning for home. At the wire, Flying Connection was much the best, winning by 9 1/4 lengths and stopping the clock for a mile in 1 minute, 36 seconds over a fast track.
Flying Connection, who lost all chance after stumbling at the start in the Borderplex Stakes here on Jan. 29, has now won three times from six career starts. After a pair of off the board finishes at Del Mar last summer, she broke her maiden at Zia Park before proving much the best in the Zia Princess Stakes last November.
Flying Connection’s impressive victory in the Island Fashion pads her career bankroll to more than $118,300.
Sent off as the overwhelming post time favorite, Flying Connection returned $2.60 to her winning backers. Love Tank and jockey Ken Tohill finished second. The $2 exacta with the top two finishers paid $22.20. Cairo Moon and Christian D’Oro rounded out the top four finishers.
New Mexico-bred thoroughbreds also shared center stage on Tuesday, as Pierre J. Jr. and Leslie A. Amestoy’s Thruthestorm rolled in the lane to narrowly prevail in a thrilling edition of the 20th running of the $100,000 Red Hedeman Mile.
Ridden to victory by Luis Fuentes for trainer Todd Fincher, Thruthestorm raced midpack down the backstretch while New Mexico Jeremy and Still In The Trap battled for the lead through an opening half mile in 48.08 seconds. Once the son of Attila’s Storm found momentum around the far turn, he still had several lengths to make up on Still In The Trap, who had a sizable advantage at the top of the lane.
Fuentes and Thruthestorm got up in the shadow of the wire, winning by a neck and racing a mile in 1 minute, 38.8 seconds. Sent off as the second choice on the toteboard at odds of 2.70-to-1, Thruthestorm returned $7.40 to his winning backers. Still In The Trap finished a clear second under jockey Felipe Valdez. The $2 exacta with the top pair returned $40.
Thruthestorm has now won two in a row, coming off an impressive score in the Corralito Steak House Stakes on Jan. 8. His win in the Hedeman Mile was his third from seven career starts, padding his career earnings to more than $156,000.
Sambas Mark finished third, with Sweet Money rounding out the top four finishers. Post time favorite Antonios Mark raced off the pace and wide throughout before finishing eighth in the 10-horse field.
In the day’s final race, J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Cheese Tray and jockey Luis Fuentes proved much the best in the 18th running of the $100,000 Albert and Henry Dominguez Memorial Handicap.
Cheese Tray battled on the lead from start to finish, dueling with McMercelus and Come Causey through an opening half mile in 47 seconds. Around the far turn, Cheese Tray then was pursued to his outside by Jet N G and jockey Jorge Carreno, with Cheese Tray fending off that challenger in deep stretch, winning by a half-length, racing 1 1/16 miles in a time of 1 minute, 43.95 seconds.
The son of Attila’s Storm ran his record to four wins from six starts at Sunland Park. He was the winner of the Johnny Jamison Handicap here on Jan. 29. Tuesday’s score gives him eight wins from 23 career starts and a lifetime bankroll that tops $403,000.
Sent off as the post time favorite at odds of 17-to-10, Cheese Tray returned $5.40 to his winning supporters. Jet N G finished second, with the $2 exacta pairing the top two returning $38.60. Thunder Dome finished third, with McMercelus rounding out the top four finishers.
In all, Fincher won six races on the Tuesday card, taking command atop the thoroughbred trainer standings with 22 winners on the season, five in front of Dick Cappellucci.
Live racing resumes on Friday with a nine-race quarter horse program scheduled to begin at 12:25 p.m.