Sunday, April 29, 2012
Stable HMA's Our Choice ran his winning streak to five with a two-length score in Saturday's 1-mile, $110,000 Jack Cole Handicap (R) for New Mexico-breds at SunRay Park.
Under jockey Ry Eikleberry, who has been aboard Our Choice in all of his victories during the streak, the 7-year-old gelding made his eight-furlong trip in 1:38.04 after closing off of solid early fractions of :22.80, :45.85, and 1:11.22. Our Choice was coming off of a Sunland Park campaign in which he won four of his six starts at the meet, including the 4 1/2-furlong, $110,000 Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap (R) in a track-record :49.57 on March 10.
Our Choice was claimed for $25,000 by Stable HMA and trainer Justin Evans on December 27, after the gelding had finished second in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance-optional claiming sprint at Sunland Park.
“We were a little concerned about this longer distance, but we knew that he was a router earlier in his career,” said Evans. “The key with this horse is to get him to settle in, and Ry fits him perfectly. If he can get him to settle in and gallop along for a ways until he's comfortable, when he pushes the button on him he just goes.”
Our Choice was bred by the Owens family's Triple AAA Ranch, and the gelding is one of 21 stakes winners sired by Desert God, an unraced son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Fappiano and the leading sire of New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds in 2011. Now 21, Desert God has sired the earners of more than $9.4 million from 144 starters. Owned by H. Joseph Allen of Abilene, Texas, he stands at Fred and Linda Alexander's A & A Ranch in Anthony, New Mexico.
Our Choice's dam, the Arizona-bred mare Neat Choice, is a winning 1986 foal by the Crafty Drone stallion First Draft Choice.
The $66,000 winner's share of the Jack Cole Handicap pushed Our Choice's bankroll to $537,667, of which $201,000 has been earned since the claim. The gelding has won 12 of 47 starts, including four stakes, while racing exclusively in New Mexico.
While racing from the barn of David Wolochuk last summer, Our Choice scored a three-quarter length victory in the 7-furlong, $50,000 E.T. Springer Stakes during the New Mexico State Fair portion of The Downs at Albuquerque meet. He also ran second, three-quarters of a length behind longshot winner Lota Talent, in the 7 1/2-furlong, $50,000 Land of Enchantment Handicap (R) at Ruidoso Downs.
Evans indicated that Our Choice would be pointed to this year's 54-day Zia Park meet, which opens September 8.
“We're going to try to give him a little break – he's definitely earned it,” added the trainer. “We might decide to race him on Zia Day at Ruidoso (on July 29) or Lineage Day at Albuquerque (on August 26), but our big campaign with him is going to be Zia next fall. He has a well-deserved break coming.”
Brother Louie finished second in the Jack Cole and was followed by Smash Dancer, On Down The Road, Gotta Move, Attitude E Racer, Double Smart, Rig's Runner, and Bigtruck El Paso.
Brother Louie is a 5-year-old gelding by the Green Dancer stallion Emerald Jig campaigned by Solitaire Stable, Lisa Dominguez, and Carlos Gutierrez. Brother Louie has five of his 32 outs and has banked $222,104, and his stakes resume includes a second-place finish to Cross Chris Run in last year's 1-mile, $192,720 Rocky Gulch New Mexico Cup Championship (R) at Zia Park.
A homebred 5-year-old gelding by the late Robyn Dancer racing for Barbara M. Coleman of Farmington, New Mexico, Smash Dancer has earned $290,068 from 22 starts. Smash Dancer's six career victories include the $182,690 New Mexico Cup Sprint Championship (R) at Zia Park and $40,000 Don Juan de Onate Stakes (R) at The Downs at Albuquerque in 2010.