Trainer Todd Fincher, who won four races on the New Mexico Cup Championship card last year at Zia Park, seems well-poised to add to his total during the rich program for state breds Oct. 31.
Fincher, currently fourth in the trainer standings at Zia, has seven entrants in the seven-race Thoroughbred portion of the card at the Hobbs track this year. They include Enchanted Outlaw, who attempts to repeat in the most lucrative race of the day, the $180,000 New Mexico Classic Cup Rocky Gulch Championship, after winning by more than eight lengths in 2009.
Chuchuluco, winner of the juvenile division last year who tries sophomore colts and geldings this time, and Glory Be Mine, who won the juvenile fillies event last year and takes on 3-year-old fillies this year, also were entered by Fincher. In all, Fincher is represented in all but one of the Thoroughbred races, the $140,000 New Mexico Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The seven Thoroughbred races at the Black Gold Casino track carry a total of more than $1 million in purses. Four Quarter Horse races that begin the program have combined purses of nearly $800,000, making the entire program worth about $1.9 million. In what promises to be a good day for wagering, 81 horses are entered in the Thoroughbred events, including five full fields of 12.
Since his resounding win in in last year's one-mile Classic, named for New Mexico's all-time most popular horse Rocky Gulch, Enchanted Outlaw has won once in three starts for owners Ted Rushing and Lee Lewis. The 5-year-old Prospector Jones gelding won the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap at Sunland Park by 4 1/2 lengths in January but has been unplaced in consecutive starts since, including a fifth-place effort in the Jack Cole Handicap at SunRay Parkin his most recent try May 9. Regular rider Alfredo Juarez Jr. is back aboard for Fincher, replacing Juan Ochoa.
Leading trainer Henry Dominguez sends out Lesters Secret, winner of the New Mexico University Handicap at Sunland in March. The gelding by Lesters Boy won the New Mexico Cup 3-year-old colt and gelding championship last year and has placed in all seven of his races in 2010. Owned by Dominguez and Simply the Best Thoroughbreds, he's to be ridden by Aaron Gryder.
Another contender is Stan Fulton's 9-year-old Some Ghost, second in the Jack Cole Handicap and coming off a third-place finish in the Unmh stakes at Albuquerque Oct. 9. He's a Tough Dude won that one-mile race in front-running style for trainer Jose Gonzalez, defeating Silver Matthais by one length. Both are entered here.
The Rocky Gulch is the 11th race on the program with a 4:35 p.m. MDT post.
In the race that precedes it, the $170,000 New Mexico Classic Cup Peppers Pride Filly/Mare Championship at one mile, Fincher entered Charles Hunter's Setustrait. She would appear to be an outsider off her distant sixth-place finish in the Chaves County Stakes over the track Oct. 3, though that was her first start since early in the summer.
The wide open event, named for the mare who retired undefeated after 19 consecutive wins over state-bred opposition, also drew stakes-winning La Sorpresa, the likely favorite for trainer J. R. Gonzalez Jr., Cali Baby, stretching out after consecutive stakes wins for trainer Eric Mikkelson, and Diamonds N Bling.
Joel Marr, who conditioned Peppers Pride, is represented by Dream Kin, a 4-year-old filly who, like Peppers Pride, is by Desert God and was bred by Joe Allen, who owns her in partnership with Michael Stinson.
Fincher's Chuchuluco, is entered in the $140,000 New Mexico Classic Colts & Gelding Stakes for 3-year-olds going six furlongs. Owned by West Texas Racing Partners and ridden by Isaias Enriquez, he captured last year's juvenile test from off the pace by 1 1/4 lengths. The lightly raced Devon Lane gelding, a winner of four of seven lifetime starts, captured the Pepsi Cola Stakes at Sunland by 2 1/4 lengths in January. He is coming off a sharp 3 1/2-length score as the even-money choice in an allowance tune-up at Zia Oct. 4.
Glory Be Mine won last year's juvenile filly event easily at odds of 3-10 and has captured both of her starts in 2010 for Fincher. A lifetime winner of six of eight starts with two seconds, the 3-year-old daughter of Dome took Sunland's La Senora Stakes in January. She tuned up for the six-furlong New Mexico Classic Cup Championship Filly Stakes for 3-year-olds, worth $140,000, with a two-length triumph over optional claiming allowance foes Sept. 26 at Zia, where she is 3-for-3.
Fincher also entered Awintersdream in the filly championship. His other entrants are Dodson in the $140,000 division for 2-year-old colts and geldings, and Smash Dancer, who drew the far outside post in the $170,000 New Mexico Classic Cup Sprint Championship.
$180,000 Rocky Gulch New Mexico Classic Cup Championship Stakes (Race 11, 4:35 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. He's a Tough Dude (NM), J L Gonzalez, 123, J A Gonzalez
2. Lesters Secret (NM), A T Gryder, 123, H Dominguez
3. Some Ghost (NM), G Murphy, 123, J S Alley
4. Silver Matthais (NM), A Delgadillo, 123, A P Araiza
5. Enchanted Outlaw (NM), A J Juarez, Jr., 123, T W Fincher
6. Brax (NM), C T Lambert, 123, C C Lambert, Sr.
7. Double Smart (NM), R Zimmerman, 123, H R Ashford, Jr.
8. Spinning Touch (NM), F Fong, Jr., 120, A Chavez
9. High Ridge Runner (NM), M Hernandez, 123, B L Woolley, Jr.
10. Desert Gamble (NM), I D Enriquez, 123, J H Marr
11. Runnin Red (NM), C D Madeira, 123, J H Marr
12. Brother John D. (NM), K S Tohill, 123, J D Martinez