On a day full of stakes at Zia Park, the most impressive performance may have come in the last of 10 races Nov. 22 at the New Mexico racetrack.
Never shy to ship to stakes in all kinds of locales, trainer Doug O'Neill sent a pair of 3-year-olds to Zia Park for its "Land of Enchantment Day" and one seized the opportunity.
After a stalking trip in third early, and blocked behind horses in the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile test, jockey Mario Gutierrez got out at the top of the stretch and Sandy's Surprise handled the rest. In the clear on the outside in the stretch, she surged to the front and pulled clear to win by 4 3/4 lengths over grade 3 winner Ever So Clever.
It was the first stakes win for Sandy's Surprise, who is owned by STD Racing Stable, John Fuller, and Neil Haymes. She finished 10th in her start prior to the Zia Park Oaks, the Oct. 29 Autumn Miss Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park. A race prior she won a one-mile optional-claiming allowance at Los Alamitos Race Course Sept. 15. Bred by WinStar Farm, she now has a 3-3-1 record from 11 starts and $283,915 in earnings.
Earlier on the nine-stakes card (for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds), Whispering Oaks Farm's grade 3 winner Iron Fist rebounded from his fifth-place run in the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) to take the $150,000 Zia Park Championship Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths over familiar rival Code West. Iron Fist has defeated Code West in his last three victories—the Zia Park Championship, Sept. 24 Governor's Cup Stakes at Remington Park, and the July 8 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3).
Other Thoroughbred stakes winners on the card were Godolphin's Cedartown ($200,000 Zia Park Derby), Indian Jack ($140,000 Eddy County Stakes), Mt Veeder ($75,000 Zia Park Sprint Stakes), and K P Wildcat ($75,000 Zia Park Distaff Stakes).