Saturday was one great day of racing for trainer Danny Montes and jockey Reuben Lozano.
It was pretty good for owner Jorge Carmona. But hes had better.
The three teamed together to have their horses win the days two major races in front of a large Kentucky Derby-day grandstand crowd filled with fancy hats and mint julips at Sun Downs Race Track in Kennewick.
In the sixth-race feature, the $21,204 AQHA Dick Monahan Maiden Challenge finals, Lozano rode First Specialist to victory.
Two races later, Lozano was aboard Ought to Azoom en route to a victory in the $21,510 Sun Downs/Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge finals.
Montes said this was one of the best days hes had as a trainer. Lozano said it was his best day as a rider.
And for Carmona, whose company is San Gregorio Racing Stables, out of Riverside, Calif.?
It was a great day, he admitted. But I had a horse win the All-American Futurity last year.
The $2.4 million Futurity? Won by One Dashing Eagle? OK, that was better.
But wins are wins, and the trio was feeling pretty good at the end of the day at the Kennewick track.
First Specialist took the Maiden victory at 350 yards, starting in the 4 spot. When the horses broke from the gate, Lozano got a clean start.
But the 5 horse, Fergilicious, starting leaking to the outside, clearing a straight path for First Specialist.
But he wanted to go outside too and follow the 5, said Lozano. I had to straighten him out.
Montes said First Specialist likes to run at Sun Downs during the daylight.
Hes a 4-year-old, and two years ago he had a bad wreck, said Montes. He cut his ribs on the inside rail under the lights. So he likes the daylight better.
Two week ago, the horse was a little skittish during the trials. But on Saturday, he was relaxed, covering the 350 yards in 17.42 seconds and 11⁄4 lengths ahead of runnerup Gc Streakin Okey.
Ought to Azoom was also relaxed before the start of his race, and he was in no hurry to get things going in the paddock. The 6-year-old gelding was just out for an easy stroll, led by his handler.
This is his fourth time racing here, said Carmona.
But by the time the race began, the horse and Lozano were all business. They got a clean break at the start, but trouble soon followed.
Ought to Azoom stumbled, said Lozano. I used the whip a little.
Eyes Movin and rider Troy Stillwell came out of the 2 spot and stayed with Ought to Azoom.
But I kept my eyes on the outside horses, said Lozano. It was the outside horses I was afraid of.
Didnt matter. Ought to Azoom held off the field even pulled away a bit at the end for the victory, covering the 350 yards in 17.35 seconds and finishing a half-length ahead of Eyes Movin.
He likes this track, said Montes. This is his third win here. This track is pretty even.
Team San Gregorio now has both horses qualified for the national finals, set for this fall at Los Alamitos.
That large Sun Downs crowd wagered $95,124 for the day and $31,350 of that was on the Kentucky Derby.
Today marks the final day of the Sun Downs meet, with two more major races the $22,850 Pot OGold Futurity (the meets signature race), and the $24,120 Sun Downs/AQHA Merial Distaff Challenge finals, with the winner advancing to the national finals this fall.
The first of the cards 10 races has a post time of 1 p.m.
For the final day, well start by picking Liberated Girl in the first for the first half of the Daily Double, and well box an exacta of Liberated Girl and Direct Deal.
In the second, Little Fools Cash is the second half of the DD, and well combine him with Varro for a $5 quinella.
Were boxing a trifecta of Reel Fast, Go Getter Back and Hyho Travio in the third.
For the fourth, its $10 to win on Skimmed.
In the fifth, well take $5 across the board on Snip N Dale.
In the sixth, were taking a trifecta box on Senator D, Here Comes Lucky and Lasting Influence.
In the seventh, well box an exacta of Stormello Fello and Swiss Ace.
In the eighth, its a $5 quinella of Avatarr and Angel Eyez.
For the ninth, well go with Chaching Pete in the first half of the Late Double, then an exacta box with Chaching Pete and Proud Illusion.
Finally, for the 10th, its Sheza Quick Chick in the second half of the Late Double, and couple her with The Streakin Clean for a $5 quinella.
Thats $70 in wagers.
FIRST TB mdn, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,300, 4 furlongs: 3. Rusty Shovel 9.60, 4.20, 3.00. 2. Vegas Boy 6.40, 3.00. 5. My Pal Sully 4.20. EX (3-2) 226.20, QU 76.20, TRI (3-2-5) 968.40. T NA.
SECOND The Miller Boys Memorial Joey, Buddy and Russ, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,700, 330 yards: 4. El Laberinto 8.40, 4.60, 5.00. 5. Surfin For Bux 6.00, 4.00. 9. Big Fast N Ugly 4.40. DD (3-4) 234.60, EX (4-5) 44.00, QU 38.40, TRI (4-5-9) 1,102.80. T 16.82.
THIRD TB clm $5,000, 3YO&Up which have never won 3 races, Purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 7. Justbrown 7.80, 4.60, 3.00. 1. Aint No Sweet Pea 5.40, 4.20. 3. Soaring Like Eagle 4.40. EX (7-1) 79.20, QU 60.00, Superfecta (&-All-All-All) 4.10, TRI (7-1-3) 172.80. T NA.
FOURTH QH alw, 3YO&Up which have never won 2 races, Purse $1,500, 350 yards: 10. Regal Chelita 14.40, 6.60, 5.40. 3. Ncc Shakool 5.60, 11.80. 8. La Kangurita 9.00, 10.80. EX (10-3) 129.80. QU (3-10) 95.70. TRI (10-3-8) 2,071.20. T 17.7.
FIFTH Western States Equipment, TB clm $2500, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2013, Purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 6. Tanyas Toad 5.00, 3.60, 3.20. 7. Liberty At the Bar 6.80, 3.80. 5. DQ - Star of Nome 3.80. EX (6-7) 43.60. QU (6-7) 31.20. TRI (6-7-1) 141.00. T NA.
SIXTH AQHA Dick Monahan Maiden Challenge Finals. Open 3YO&Up, Purse $21, 204, 350 yards: 4. First Specialist 5.00, 4.20, 3.80. 3. Gc Streakin Okey 11.00, 8.00. 1. Royal Down Special 8.80. EX (4-3) 32.60. QU (3-4) 61.60. Superfecta (4-3-all-all) 10.00. TRI (4-3-1) 1,302.80. T 17.42.
SEVENTH Jim Smith Ribbons and Lace Handicap, 3YO&Up, Purse $2,100, 6 furlongs, 1. Trixie Two 18.20, 6.80, 4.40. 5. Sasha B 3.20, 3.00. 6. Colorful Tune 3.60. EX (1-5) 35.80. QU (1-5) 17.40. TRI (1-5-6) 133.60. T NA.
EIGHTH Sun Downs/Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Finals, 3YO&Up, Purse $21,510, 350 yards: 4. Ought to Azoom 4.80, 2.80, 2.80. 2, Eyes Movin 3.40, 3.20. 8. Snowbound Superchick 6.40. DD (1-4) 62.00. EX (4-2) 8.20. QU (2-4) 12.90. Superfecta (4-2-8-9) 144.10. TRI (4-2-8) 70.40. T 17.35. Total handle: $95,124. Kentucky handle from Sundowns: $31,350.
First post 1 p.m.
FIRST TB mdn, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,300, 4 furlongs: 1. Heaven At Last. 2. Megs Easter Rain. 3. Liberated Girl. 4. Whoopee for Mee. 5. Chica Caliente. 6. Pursue the Moon. 7. Belle Chippendale. 8. Direct Deal.
SECOND QH mdn, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,300, 350 yards: 1. Miss Zay Cheng. 2. Okes Blue Okie. 3. Varro. 4. Little Fools Cash. 5. Miss Ez Okey. 6. Special Bully. 7. Lookin for Streakin. 8. Kevins Last Shot. 9. See Sea Look.
THIRD TCHRA Futurity Consolation, 2YO, Purse $2,000, 300 yards: 1. Seperation Creek Fly. 2. Imafeline. 3. Reel Fast. 4. Go Getter Back. 5. Hyho Travio.
FOURTH TB clm $2500, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2013, Purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 1. Yo Syd. 2. Skimmed. 3. Blazethepaige. 4. Fly Pole. 5. Tuxedo Dollys. 6. Notes of Freedom.
FIFTH QH alw, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,700, 350 yards: 1. Shez Pretty Awesome. 2. Unique Sneak. 3. Lil Orange Scooter. 4. Corona Legacy. 5. Snip N Dale. 6. Shazoomin for Honor.
SIXTH TB clm $2,000, 3YO&Up which have not won a race in 2013, Purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 1. Lasting Influence. 2. Here Comes Lucky. 3. Senator D. 4. Crying Eye. 5. Dee Rain. 6. Daryl.
SEVENTH Bill Henderson Memorial, QH alw, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,700, 770 yards: 1. Sugar Kane Train (QH). 2. The Biens Gift (TB). 3. Dalightfullyfast (QH). 4. Stormello Fello (TB). 5. Berkley Gal (QH). 6. Swiss Ace (TB).
EIGHTH Pot OGold Futurity, QH Futurity, 2YO nominated and qualified in time trials, Purse $22,850, 300 yards: 1. Avatarr. 2. Kool Chivato. 3. Divine Art. 4. Ba Snowin Okies. 5. Eagle B Gone. 6. Junos First Chick. 7. Js Mr Jazz. 8. La Jackye. 9. Rock de Noche. 10. Angel Eyez.
NINTH Sun Downs Au Revoir Handicap, TB Handicap, 3YO&Up which have started at the 2013 Sun Downs meet, Purse $2,100, 61⁄5 furlongs: 1. Sentimento. 2. Only Be Cause. 3. Chaching Pete. 4. Vezuviy. 5. Splashmee. 6. Proud Illusion. 7. Bucks Bro.
TENTH Sun Downs/AQHA Meriel Distaff Challenge finals, Purse $24,120, 400 yards: 1. Ez Gamer. 2. A Regal Blue Sky. 3. L Bar D Snow Princes. 4. Sheza Quick Chick. 5. Clear Blue Sea. 6. The Streakin Clean. 7. Feature Miss Alibi. 8. Chivata Lane.