Cassatt and Jojo Warrior, both graded stakes winners, and Shanon Nicole, victorious in two $200,000 stakes in a row, top the cast entered for the "Land of Enchantment Day" card Nov. 26 at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., when the card features seven stakes races worth a total of $1.1 million.
The three sophomore fillies are among seven entered in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks, the richest race for female horses in New Mexico. As one of the final opportunities for top 3-year-old fillies to compete against their own age group, the 1 1/16-mile Zia Park Oaks brings together a stellar cast from out of state.
"You're about through with any of the straight 3-year-old races, and this was really convenient finding one last oaks to run in," trainer Larry Jones said about his filly, Cassatt.
With Kerwin Clark aboard, Cassatt captured the Monmouth Oaks (gr. III) at Monmouth Park in August. Owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, the versatile filly has won at distances from five furlongs to 1 1/16 miles while racing both on the lead and off the pace. She will need to rebound from an uncharacteristic ninth in the Oct. 18 Lexus Raven Run (gr. II) at Keeneland.
California invader Jojo Warrior captured the Summertime Oaks (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in June and took the Torrey Pines (gr. III) at Del Mar in August before a third to eventual Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Untapable in the $1 million Cotillion (gr. I) at Parx Racing in September. Martin Garcia rides for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Zayat Stables and WinStar Farm.
Shanon Nicole, who will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, is well-traveled for trainer Mike Maker, with wins in the Remington Park Oaks in Oklahoma and the Indiana Grand Stakes in her past two starts.
"She has a great mind and nothing seems to bother her," Maker said.
After cleaning up in stakes races for 3-year-olds in New Mexico, local stars Proceed and Alsono will each have their toughest test to date in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby. Proceed is unbeaten in four career races for jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr., trainer Joel Marr, and owner Michael Stinson.
"He's very intelligent and has a lot of natural ability," Marr said. "He has a good turn of foot when he needs it."
Tony Pennington's Alsono has won eight of the 10 starts he has made in New Mexico, six of them in stakes races.
"That horse never ceases to amaze me and wins races you didn't think he could on heart," trainer Justin Evans said about the colt, who will be ridden by Ry Eikleberry. "I think the local horses could have the upper hand because they've been training over the track."
"Perhaps it took him a little while to acclimate to the United States, but he's doing very well right now," Hollendorfer said of Tonito M., who began his career with six wins in seven races in Puerto Rico.
Baffert-trained Can the Man captured the Affirmed (gr. III) at Santa Anita in June and also tries this spot. The Derby has also attracted Alert Bay, a winner of two grade III stakes in a row at Hastings Racecourse.
Supporting Thoroughbred stakes races on the card include the $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap, where 2013 winner Ol Winedrinker Who will attempt to defend home turf and repeat. The 5-year-old, owned by breeders Sam and Sammy Stevens, is trained by Marr and ridden by Carlos Madeira. Ol Winedrinker Who won the 2012 Zia Park Derby.
"He's run his best here," said Marr, who recently notched his 1,000th career Thoroughbred victory.
The $75,000 Zia Park Distaff for fillies and mares at six furlongs and the $140,000 Eddy County Stakes for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico at one mile are also featured.
The Holiday Racing Festival at Zia Park's sister racetrack, Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., will follow Zia Park's races. The stakes at Zia and Penn will conclude the nationwide $5 million Penn Gaming Racing Challenge launched this year. Televised coverage of the Zia Park races will be provided by HRTV and TVG, with radio by HRRN.
Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 6 Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 7 Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 8
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Isn't He Clever (KY) Enrique Portillo Gomez 121 Johnnie L. Nall - 2 2Tap the Admiral (KY) Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr. 115 Jon G. Arnett - 3 3Blueskiesnrainbows (VA) Elvis Trujillo 121 Jerry Hollendorfer - 4 4Big Tall Paul (KY) Ken S. Tohill 114 Simon J. Buechler - 5 5Ol Winedrinker Who (TX) Carlos D. Madeira 120 Joel H. Marr - 6 6Code West (VA) M. Clifton Berry 120 Boyd Caster - 7 7Broadway Empire (KY) Jorge Carreno 119 Robertino Diodoro - 8 8Smack Ridge (KY) Dusty Ryder Shepherd 116 Simon J. Buechler - PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Alsono (KY) Ry Eikleberry 122 Justin R. Evans - 2 2Bay of Biscay (KY) Jorge Carreno 122 Robertino Diodoro - 3 3Tonito M. (KY) Rafael Bejarano 122 Jerry Hollendorfer - 4 4Proceed (NM) Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr. 122 Joel H. Marr - 5 5Alert Bay (CA) Rico W. Walcott 122 Blaine D. Wright - 6 6Walt (KY) M. Clifton Berry 122 Chris A. Hartman - 7 7Street Prancer (KY) Corey S. Nakatani 122 Steven M. Asmussen - 8 8Can the Man (KY) Martin Garcia 122 Bob Baffert - PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Thegirlinthatsong (TX) Rafael Bejarano 122 Jerry Hollendorfer - 2 2Jojo Warrior (KY) Martin Garcia 122 Bob Baffert - 3 3Belleofthebeach (KY) Irwin J. Rosendo 122 Justin R. Evans - 4 4Dream Spinner (KY) Alex Birzer 122 Michael Raidt - 5 5Shanon Nicole (KY) Corey S. Nakatani 122 Michael J. Maker - 6 6Cassatt (KY) Kerwin D. Clark 122 J. Larry Jones - 7 7Taste Like Candy (KY) Elvis Trujillo 122 Jerry Hollendorfer -
Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 6
Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 7
Zia Park, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Race 8