Saturday, March 10, 2012
Our Choice was a prompt even-money favorite in Saturday's $110,000 Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap (R) for New Mexico-breds at Sunland Park.
Ridden by Ry Eikleberry for owner Stable HMA, Our Choice covered 4 ½ furlongs in :49.57, missing by just 14/100ths of a second the track record for the distance set by Key's Band in the 2009 Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap. The 7-year-old gelding's margin of victory was 2 ¾ lengths from Doms Flash.
Trainer Justin Evans saddled both Our Choice and Doms Flash.
Our Choice was bred by the Owens family's Triple AAA Ranch. The gelding is one of 21 stakes winners sired by Desert God, an unraced son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Fappiano. Now 21, Fappiano has sired 143 starters and the earners of more than $9.1 million, and he was last year's leading New Mexico-based sire.
Desert God is owned by H. Joseph Allen of Abilene, Texas, and he stands at Fred and Linda Alexander's A & A Ranch at Anthony, New Mexico.
Our Choice is also one of 10 winners from 11 starters foaled by Neat Choice, a winning 1986 foal by the Crafty Drone stallion First Draft Choice. Neat Choice's starters have earned more than $1.3 million and include Bueno, a half sister to Our Choice who won nine stakes at Turf Paradise and Arapahoe Park from 1994-99; De Shay, a filly by Society Max who won the $80,660 Arizona Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Fall Sales Stakes at Turf Paradise in '01; and Jomax, a half brother to Our Choice who won six stakes in Arizona from 1999-2003.
Our Choice has won 10 of 45 races, including all three of his starts this season, and the $66,000 winner's share of the Mt. Cristo Rey purse increased his career bankroll to $448,267, of which $111,600 has been earned this year. The gelding scored a three-quarter length victory in last years 7-furlong, $50,000 E.T. Springer Stakes (R) during the New Mexico State Fair portion of The Downs at Albuquerque meet, and his three lifetime stakes victories include the 2007 Red Hedeman Mile Handicap (R) for 2-year-olds at Sunland Park.
Our Choice returned a $4 win mutuel and teamed with runner-up Doms Flash, a 31-1 longshot, for a $58.40 ($2) exacta. Lester's Echo, a longshot sent to post at odds of nearly 32-1, ran third to complete a ($1) trifecta dividend of $231.
Pure D Gold, Mostly Dust, Smash Dancer, Ransomsgoodfriday, Bonndaddy's, Thenew Normal, and Flash Me The Cash completed the order of finish.
A homebred 4-year-old gelding by the Storm Cat stallion Dominique's Cat racing for Sandra McKenna and James L. Drought, Doms Flash has won two of 14 outs and has banked $78,337. Doms Flash ran fourth, 5 ¾ lengths behind winner Attitude E Racer, in last year's 6 1/2-furlong, $85,000 Dine Stakes (R) for New Mexico-bred sophomore colts and geldings at SunRay Park.
Lester's Echo is a 5-year-old son of the Eastern Echo stallion The Trader's Echo campaigned by Diana Bringhurst and Jeff and Chris Meyers. The gelding has earned $151,721 from 18 races, and his stakes resume includes third-place finishes in last year's Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap and the 2010 Road Runner Handicap (R) at Ruidoso Downs.