Imco Spirit, a 9-1 outsider, completed his rise from $12,500 claimer to stakes winner in three months with a track-record victory in the $218,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Dec. 5 in Hobbs, N.M.
Owned by trainer Henry Dominguez and Kirk Robison, Imco Spirit raced the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.36 to lower the track standard held by Song Of Navarone when he won the 2008 running of the Zia Park Distance Championship.
Schramsberg took the lead from the gate and opened up a daylight advantage. He set all the fractions (:24.77, :48.71, 1:12.38) until Imco Spirit, ridden by Alejandro Medellin, put him away in the stretch. Imco Spirit prevailed by one-half length over Schramsberg. The 2-1 favorite Quindici Man came on late for third, another 3 1/2 lengths back, in the field of nine older horses.
“He ran a huge race," Dominguez said of the winner. “I didn’t expect it. There was nothing else to run him in, so we had to throw him in and take a shot at it.”
Robison and Dominguez claimed the Irish-bred 4-year-old gelded son of Invincible Spirit out of a winning effort in a $12,500 claiming race at Del Mar Aug. 29. He shipped to Zia Park and improved his winning streak to three with a pair of allowance victories by a combined 10 1/4 lengths. In his most recent start, he finished second in Zia's Veteran Stakes as the 5-2 favorite Nov. 6.
Runner-up Schramsberg, a son of leading sire Storm Catand champion Serena's Song, was a $1.4 million yearling purchase and became a stakes winner this year for trainer Chris Hartman.
The Bobby Joe Hammer-owned 4-year-old won the Remington Green Handicap at Remington Park two starts ago and then was off the board in the River City Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
Third-place finisher Quindici Man earned favoritism after winning the Bull Dog Stakes and racing to a third-place finish in the Delta Mile Stakes in his two prior attempts.
Imco Spirit earned $126,876 for his fifth lifetime win in 20 starts, boosting his career bankroll to $214,167. The bay is out of the Treasure Kay mare Treasure Hope.
He carried 118 pounds and paid $20, $15 and $4.40 as the fifth choice of the bettors. Schramsberg, ridden by Ramsey Zimmerman at 15-1, returned $13.80 and $5.80 and was part of a whopping $529.80 exacta. Quindici Man, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, was $2.40 to show.
Double Shuffle, Andiotis, Jardim, Tricky Causeway, Sunday Sunrise and Soul Warrior completed the order.
In the Eddy County Stakes for 2-year-old New Mexico-breds, Charles Hunter and Dale Taylor’s Jannas Pride rallied in the final sixteenth to score a 3 3/4-length win in 1:39.13 for one mile. Juan Ochoa was the winning rider.
Beau Wizer finished second and Texas Silver was third.
A gelded son of Desert God, Jannas Pride raced to his third straight win in his stakes debut for trainer Todd Fincher.