Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A total of 94 New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds, including graded stakes winner Winning Merlot, has been entered in Friday’s 350-yard Mountain Top Quarter Horse Futurity (RG3) trials at Ruidoso Downs.
By comparison, last year’s Mountain Top trials were also contested by 94 entries.
A gray son of the Holland Ease stallion Winners Version, Winning Merlot races for Joseph and Debra Meridyth of Hobbs, New Mexico, from the barn of trainer Jackie Riddle. The gelding was acquired for $7,500 at last year’s Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, and his two wins in as many outs includes a half-length victory as the fourth-fastest qualifier in the April 6, 300-yard New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) at Sunland Park.
Winning Merlot will be ridden by Francisco Calderon from post 9 in the sixth of 10 Mountain Top trials.
Gary L. Thompson’s Dungarees Six, a gelded son of Sixes Royal trained by Emilio Cadena III, will be ridden by Esgar Ramirez from post 2 in the second heat. Dungarees Six broke his maiden with a head victory in the 300-yard, $50,000 New Mexico Spring Fling Stakes (R) at Sunland on April 5.
Thompson and Cadena will also be represented by Dungarees Version, a brown gelding by Winners Version who ran second to Winning Merlot in the Spring Futurity. A winner of two of his three outs, Dungarees drew post 3 and will be ridden by Esgar Ramirez in the eighth trial.
Other prominent state-bred 2-year-olds entered in Friday’s trials include Bet The Sixes, Quemados Version, Fast Copy Jess, and Niftys First Flash, all of whom were winners during the 2013-14 Sunland Park meet, and Heza Winning Version, a winner against open maidens during the Sam Houston Race Park spring meet.
A bay Winners Version colt owned by Juan Daguer and trained by H. Armando Orozco, Quemados Version ran fifth as the fastest qualifier and odds-on favorite in the Spring Futurity.
Also, MJ Farms’ Astica drew post 2 in the ninth heat. The homebred Jesse James Jr filly is trained by Matt Fales, and she is coming off of a 2 1/2-length win in the May 2, $6,000 Desert Classic Futurity Consolation at Turf Paradise.
The 10 fastest qualifiers will meet in the $350,000-est. Mountain Top Futurity final on June 14.