Unusual Way's Zia Oaks Win Tops Record Card

Unusual Way's Zia Oaks Win Tops Record Card
Photo: Coady Photography
Unusual Way won the first-ever Zia Park Oaks.

Zia Park Racetrack & Casino conducted its biggest day of racing since opening in 2005 Nov. 27 when the inaugural "Land of Enchantment Day" featured seven stakes with purses worth a total of more than $1.1 million and attracted a record wagering handle. 

The 11-race card, which came together at the last minute after an unseasonal snowfall postponed the races during the weekend of Nov. 23-24, posted a total handle of $1.56 million. That smashed the previous Zia record of $1.02 million for New Mexico Cup Day in November 2009.

Unusual Way led every yard to win the first-ever $300,000 Zia Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, defeating Gold Medal Dancer and Oscar Party. With jockey Edwin Maldonado nursing a comfortable lead and looking over his shoulder for the competition, the California-bred filly ran her opponents off their feet for a six-length victory as the 2-1 second choice in 1:44.01.

"My filly ran one of her A-races without question," said her trainer, Jeff Bonde. "New Mexico has been good to me.  I ran second with Unusual Way in the Sunland Park Oaks, and now she wins this race. That was a pretty outstanding performance.”

In his first race outside Northlands Park in Canada, For Cash scored a 16-1 upset in the final strides of the $200,000 Zia Park Derby at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds. Aldo Arboleda piloted the Alberta-bred trained by Dale Greenwood to a half-length win over Carve and I Stand Alone in 1:45.17. For Cash became the first Canadian horse to win the Zia Park Derby.

Ol Winedrinker Who continues to get better with age as the 2012 Zia Park Derby winner captured the $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship for older horses at 1 1/8 miles. With Carlos Madeira up, Ol Winedrinker Who took the lead in the homestretch and surged clear for a 3 1/4-length victory in 1:50.09 as the 3-1 favorite.

"He definitely likes the racetrack, and he’s run well every time on it," said trainer Joel Marr. "He’s getting better with age and getting more mature. He’s learned to run between horses and on the inside. He didn’t like that early on.”

Red Lead finished second in the Zia Park Distance Championship for the third year in a row, and No Spin, a stablemate from the Chris Hartman barn, was third.

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