Global Stage and Forest Mouse, the first two finishers in the Veteran Stakes at Zia Park, head the field for the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap Dec. 3, the richest Thoroughbred race of the season at the Hobbs, N.M. track.
The 1 1/8-mile event on Zia's final weekend of the 2012 meet also marks the return to Zia of Stachys, winner of the Zia Park Derby in December 2010. In addition, McKenna's Justice, who upset the Distance Championship at odds of 17-1 last year, is back for another crack, as well as 2011 runner-up Red Lead.
The Zia Park Distance Championship, in its eighth year, is the 10th race on Zia's second-to-last program for 2012 with an approximate post time of 4:09 p.m. MST. The card also includes the $150,000 Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship and the $120,000 New Mexico Eddy County Stakes for 2-year-olds state breds.
Forest Mouse, though he was edged by a neck by Global Stage as the 9-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Veteran Nov. 3, is the 3-1 morning line choice in the field of 10. The Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt by Teton Forest has won five of his past 11 starts with five seconds for trainer Henry Dominguez and owner Parnell Thomas.
Usually a stalking type, Forest Mouse found himself on the lead at every call in the Veteran and was worn down in the final strides by Global Stage, who posted an 8-1 upset. Forest Mouse's last stakes win came in the San Juan County Commissioners Handicap at SunRay Park June 26.
Ry Eikleberry, who notched his 1,000th career win Nov. 19, has the return mount on Forest Mouse. They break from post 6 with 122 pounds. Forest Mouse has won 10 of 26 lifetime starts while earning $286,752.
Global Stage has won two stakes, including the Ruidoso Downs Thoroughbred Championship Handicap at Sept. 3, since being claimed for $32,000 by trainer/co-owner David Wolochuk in February at Santa Anita Park. The 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Globalize also edged Forest Mouse by a neck in the Ruidoso race at odds of 19-1.
Wolochuk owns Global Stage in partnership with Patrick Montoya. The 123-pound highlight breaks from post 4 with Ken Tohill back aboard.
First Strike, third in the Veteran for Southern California-based trainer Robert Diodoro, and fourth-place Watch Me Go are also entered.
First Strike, 6-1 on the morning line, won a minor stake at Turf Paradise prior to the Veteran. He is one of three entrants from Diodoro, along with Where's the Remote, claimed for $32.0000 out of his last start at Santa Anita Oct. 21, and Hurricane Lake, taken for $40,000 at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 18.
Following the Veteran, Watch Me Go returned to win a one-mile optional claimer at even money Nov. 13 for trainer Weston Martin.
Al and Bill Ulwelling's Stachys, pegged at 9-2 on the morning line, will be reunited with Eddie Martin Jr., who was aboard the 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding in the 2010 Zia Park Derby. Making his ninth start of the year for trainer Michael Biehler, Stachys is coming off a third-place effort against an allowance/optional claiming field at Remington Park Nov. 10. The bay won the Brooks Fields Stakes at Canterbury Park in Minnesota in June.
Another Southern California shipper in the field is Thirtyfirststreet, who has been facing top company this year while winning once in 10 tries. Now trained by Peter Eurton, the 4-year-old son of Good Journey was most recently fourth in a conditioned allowance race on turf at Hollywood Nov. 8, a race won by graded stakes victor Kettle Corn.
Red Lead, who missed by a nose in last year's Distance Championship Handicap, has posted back-to-back turf wins in optional claiming company at Remington coming into this year's renewal for trainer Chris Hartman. With 10 wins from 38 career starts, Red Lead leads the field in earnings with $646,275.
McKenna's Justice has one win in seven starts since last year's upset and is expected to be a longshot again.
$200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship (Race 10, 4:09 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Where's the Remote (CA), D C Bell, 116, R Diodoro, 15/1
2. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), A Medellin, 116, P Eurton, 8/1
3. McKenna's Justice (KY), M Hernandez, 115, J R Evans, 20/1
4. Global Stage (CA), K S Tohill, 123, D Wolochuk, 4/1
5. First Strike (KY), J Carreno, 118, R Diodoro, 6/1
6. Forest Mouse (KY), R Eikleberry, 122, H Dominguez, 3/1
7. Stachys (KY), E Martin Jr., 120, M E Biehler, 9/2
8. Watch Me Go (FL), I D Enriquez, 120, W Martin, 10/1
9. Red Lead (FL), C Landeros, 119, C A Hartman, 8/1
10. Hurricane Lake (KY), E P Gomez, 117, R Diodoro, 12/1
Blinkers Off: Where's the Remote