Black Hills Strikes Gold in Zia Distance 'Cap

Son of Judge T.C. rallies past Song of Navarone and Orientate Express.

Black Hills altered course inwardly at the sixteenth pole before sweeping to victory in the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship Handicap Dec. 6 in Hobbs, N.M.

With Catalino Martinez aboard, the 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Judge T C collared favored Song of Navarone and late leader Orientate Express in deep stretch on his way to a 1 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile event. The final time was 1:53.22 over a track labeled 'good.'

Orientate Express, ridden by Glen Murphy, held off 13-10 choice Song of Navarone and Antonio Castanon by 1 3/4 lengths for second.

Co-owned by A and R Stables and Class Racing Stable, Black Hills earned his second stakes win for trainer Bart Hone. He won the San Juan  County Commissioners Handicap at SunRay Park in June.

Black Hills began his career in Southern California, breaking his maiden at Hollywood Park in November 2006, before transferring to the New Mexico circuit this year. He has won six of nine starts with two thirds in 2009 and has earnings of $257,920.

Shadowbdancing set the pace for the opening half-mile (fractions were unavailable) before giving way to Orientate Express, who emerged from between horses at the quarter pole to draw clear briefly mid-stretch over the pressing Song of Navarone. Both of the leaders were tiring, though, as Black Hills, rallying from the back of the pack under strong urging from Martinez, surged clear in deep stretch.

Black Hills won for the seventh time in 17 lifetime starts and boosted his career earnings to $317,580 with the winning share of $120,000.

Juan Centeno bred Black Hills, who is out of the Tactical Advantage mare Little Sioux. The dark bay gelding sold for $25,000 at Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2005 Open Sale of Yearlings.

Black Hills paid $14.80, $4.80, and $3.20. Orientate Express returned $5.40 and $2.40, completing a $2 exacta of $75. Song of Navarone was $2.20 to show.