Keene Thoroughbreds’ Texas Chrome, Thoroughbred racing’s newest millionaire, drew the rail post for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap at Albuquerque Downs.
The Downs at Albuquerque Handicap is the track’s signature race for Thoroughbreds. The purse of the stakes was $150,000 in 2015 and has been increased in $25,000 increments every year since.
Allen Milligan, Texas Chrome’s trainer, confirmed on Monday that the 4-year-old son of the Dixie Union stallion Grasshopper will arrive in Albuquerque on Thursday. Texas Chrome pushed his earnings to $1,020,762 when he scored a 1 1/4-length victory in the 1-mile, $50,000 Assault Stakes for Texas-breds at Lone Star Park near Dallas on July 22.
The Downs at Albuquerque Handicap will be the sixth race on Albuquerque Downs’ 10-race program, which gets underway at 6:05 p.m. (MDT). Estimated post time for The Downs at Albuquerque Handicap is set for 8:10.
This year’s Downs at Albuquerque Handicap features two millionaires — Clark Brewster’s Neck ’N Neck ($1,157,590) is the other — and three graded stakes winners: Texas Chrome, Neck ’N Neck, and Code West.
Following is a a closer look at all 10 horses entered in the Downs at Albuquerque Handicap, listed in post position order with their morning-line odds and weight assignments:
1. TEXAS CHROME (Trainer Allen Milligan, jockey Lindey Wade, 5-2, 122): Texas Chrome made his first start for trainer Allen Milligan in the June 17, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs. Prior to his win in the Assault Stakes, the colt ran second, two lengths behind winner Iron Fist, in the 1 1/8-mile, $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows on July 8. Texas Chrome will be making his first start in New Mexico since October 12, 2015, when he scored a four-length victory in the 6-furlong, $55,000 Governor’s Cup Stakes for 2-year-olds at Zia Park in Hobbs. The colt has won nine of 20 starts, and his eight stakes victories include last year’s $400,000 Super Derby (G3) at Louisiana Downs and $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park.
2. OL WINEDRINKER WHO (Trainer Jose R. Gonzalez Jr., jockey Enrique Gomez, 20-1, 116): This 8-year-old gelding will be making his first start for Dr. Miguel Gallegos’ Gallegos del Norte Racing of Albuquerque and his trainer, an Albuquerque native and alumnus of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program. An earner of $785,852 from 49 starts, Ol Winedrinker Who was claimed by his current connections for $15,000 at Albuquerque Downs on July 22. The Texas-bred gelding will be seeking his first stakes victory since February 28, 2016, when he won the 1 1/16-mile, $78,600 Curribot Handicap at Sunland Park.
3. HEREDITARY (Trainer Justin Evans, jockey J. Martin Bourdieu, 10-1, 119): This 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro will be making his first start for owners Duane and Debra Cugnini of Durango, Colorado, and trainer Justin Evans, the meet’s leading Thoroughbred trainer to date. Hereditary has earned $41,710 from six outs this year, and his season resume includes a third-place finish, 4 1/2 lengths behind winner Stanford, in the 1 1/16-mile, $100,000 Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, his first-ever race against stakes company..
4. REAL HEAT (Trainer Justin Evans, jockey David M. Lopez, 12-1, 117): A 7-year-old California-bred gelding by Unusual Heat, Real Heat prepped for this race with a 3 3/4-length victory in a 1-mile, $19,900 allowance-optional claiming route at Albuquerque Downs on July 2. Real Heat was claimed by his current owners, A & A Equine Inc. and Harry Veruchi, for $20,000 on January 14. Since the claim, he has earned $43,264 from six outs, and he ran third, 4 3/4 lengths behind winner and stablemate Redneck Humor, in the 6 1/2-furlong, $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes at Sunland Park.
5. FOREST MOUSE (Trainer Henry Dominguez, jockey Ry Eikleberry, 4-1, 120): Forest Mouse is familiar to the state’s racing fans, as the 9-year-old Kentucky-bred stallion has made his last 22 starts at New Mexico tracks. The runner-up to Smack Smack in last year’s Downs at Albuquerque Handicap, Forest Mouse has won 25 of 59 starts, including 10 stakes, and he has banked $944,687. The gelding won two stakes for his owner, Solitaire Stable, during the 2016-17 Sunland Park winter meet: the 1-mile, $65,000 Winsham Lad Handicap on January 21, and the 1 1/16-mile, $75,000 Curribot Handicap on February 26.
6. AMERICAN DUBAI (Trainer Rodney Richards, jockey Ken Tohill, 7-2, 121): American Dubai is coming off of a third-place finish, five lengths behind winner Iron Fist (and three lengths behind runner-up and Downs at Albuquerque opponent Texas Chrome), in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows. A 4-year-old Virgina-bred colt by E Dubai racing for owner Richard Keith, he will be making his first-ever start at Albuquerque Downs. American Dubai put together a four-race win streak during the 2016-17 Sunland Park meet that included a four-length score as the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap on April 16.
7. CONCORD FAST (Trainer Bart Hone, jockey Elvin Gonzalez, 20-1, 117): This trainer-jockey combination teamed to win last week’s $55,000 Duke City Sprint for 3-year-olds with Teed Off Stables’ Pink Cotton. A 4-year-old West Virginia-bred son of the Tapit stallion Concord Point has banked $216,455 from 13 outs. The chestnut gelding, who also races for the Odessa, Texas-based Teed Off Stable, will be seeking his first stakes win since May 3, 2016, when he rallied for a 1 1/4-length victory as the 2-5 favorite, in the 1-mile, $100,000 Riley Allison Stakes at Sunland Park.
8. NECK ’N NECK (Trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr., 8-1, 119): An 8-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Flower Alley, Neck ’N Neck will be making just his second start in New Mexico; on April 16, he finished second to American Dubai in the Sunland Park Handicap. Neck ’N Neck races for attorney Clark O. Brewster of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is trained by Steve Asmussen, a two-time Eclipse award-winning trainer who was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, New York, last year. The stallion is the other millionaire in the field, as he has earned $1,157,590 from 40 races, and his six wins include the 2012 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and Indiana Derby (G2) at Hoosier Park.
9. OVERLAND PARK (Trainer Nancy Summers, jockey Duane Sterling, 12-1, 118): This 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by the Tabasco Cat stallion Snow Ridge finished fourth in last year’s Downs at Albuquerque Handicap after being on or near the lead most of the way. Overland Park has won two of his six races for owner Donna Eaton this season, including the 1 1/8-mile, $50,000 San Juan County Commissioners Handicap at SunRay Park in Farmington on June 19. Trainer Nancy Summers and jockey Duane Sterling combined to win the $50,000 Sierra Starlet Handicap (R) for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies during Ruidoso Downs’ Zia Festival program last Sunday.
10. CODE WEST (Trainer Boyd Caster, jockey Alex Birzer, 8-1, 119): Since Code West’s third-place finish in this race last year, the 7-year-old Virginia-bred son of 1999 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Lemon Drop Kid has won two races for owners Bryan Hawk, Leo Hawk, and Tim Hawk, including the 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 Zia Park Championship in his final start of 2016. Code West has won seven of 33 starts and has banked $726,227 while racing in 10 states, and his four stakes wins include the 1 1/16-mile, $113,100 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs in 2013.