Barbaro Stakes winner Awesome Bet, already a veteran of 13 starts in less than a year’s time, will wrap up a long season when he leads a field of six in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby Dec. 3.
The 3-year-old son of Awesome Again has logged plenty of miles in 2011 for owner Mike McCarty and trainer Steve Asmussen, starting 10 times at seven different racetracks while racing in every month except in June and November. He has tallied three wins, the July 9 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park his biggest triumph. The colt was second in the Sept. 10 Super Derby (gr. II) two starts back at Louisiana Downs and ninth in the Oct. 16 Oklahoma Derby in most recent try. He has remained at Remington Park since that last race, where he has been on a steady work pattern.
Asmussen has assigned Luis Quinonez to ride Awesome Bet, the 5-2 morning-line favorite. The 1 1/16-mile Zia Park Derby is set for a 4:09 p.m. MST post. Zia Park, located in Hobbs, N. M., wraps up its current meet the following day with an 11-race card that features the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap.
Awesome Bet, who is 3-3-1 from 13 lifetime starts, made his debut Oct. 28, 2010, at Keeneland and has made starts at nine tracks around the country during the past 12 months. He was bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing partnership and is out of the Kris. S. mare Ellie’s Moment.
Thirtyfirststreet, a California-bred son of Good Journey, could be the top threat to Awesome Bet, as he easily defeated him back in May in the Lone Star Derby. That race was on turf, which is what the bay colt has run on in his last five starts.
Based in California for trainer Doug O’Neill, who also bred the horse with co-owner Mark Gorman, Thirtyfirststreet has made two of his 11 lifetime starts on dirt, including a win in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes last winter at Santa Anita. Most recently, he was 10th in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT).
O’Neill shipped Thirtyfirststreet, the 3-1 second choice, to Zia Park last week, and the colt had a four-furlong work over the track Nov. 26.
Texas-bred Hidden Recipe, a stakes winner in state-restricted company, and Half Dome Dude, a local allowance winner in his last start, are also top contenders.
$150,000 Zia Park Derby (Race 10, 4:09 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Hidden Recipe (TX), R Eikleberry, 122, J A Bruner, 4/1
2. Happy Toes (CA), M Rodriguez, 122, I Green, 6/1
3. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), A Medellin, 122, D F O'Neill, 3/1
4. First Strike (KY), A J Juarez Jr., 122, R Diodoro, 9/2
5. Awesome Bet (KY), L S Quinonez, 122, S M Asmussen, 5/2
6. Half Dome Dude (KY), E P Gomez, 122, H Dominguez, 9/2