This is the big weekend at Sun Downs race track in Kennewick.
The one where you can bet on the Kentucky Derby today.
Or that there are four local races for quarter horses over the next two days that have purses of at least $15,000 — including Sun Downs’ signature event, the $27,149 Pot O’Gold Futurity on Sunday.
Because of that, the top trainers on the west coast are bringing their clients’ best horses to the Kennewick track in the hopes of advancing to the national finals for some of these races.
Names like Danny Montes, who handles horses for San Gregorio Racing Stable Inc., out of southern California. Or Scott Raley out of Portland Meadows. Or Monty Arrossa out of Idaho.
But don’t count out the local guys — especially Hermiston’s Juan Sanguino and Boardman’s Hector Magallanes.
Of the weekend’s four major local races — today’s $17,112 Sun Downs/AQHA Maiden Challenge Finals and the $15,030 Sun Downs/Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Finals; and Sunday’s Pot O’Gold and the $28,170 Sun Downs/AQHA Meriel Distaff Challenge Finals — Sanguino and Magallanes will be especially busy.
Sanguino — the quarter horse trainer of the meet at Portland Meadows three years running — has eight entries in the four races.
Magallanes, who continues to impress owners with his handling of their horses, will have five.
For Sanguino, five of his horses will be in the ninth-race Starter Allowance Challenge finals today. How does a trainer give equal time to so many horses in one race?
“I’ve got a lot of brothers, and everybody has got his job,” said Sanguino. “I oversee everyone.”
Magallanes, whose horses have won two Pot O’Gold’s in a row, has the same problem as Sanguino, with four horses entered in Sunday’s Pot O’Gold.
“Especially because there are different owners for every horse, I treat them all the same,” said Magallanes. “The one that is going to shine has the talent. And you need a little luck with a clean race.”
The range of all four races is anywhere from 300 yards to 400 yards. A lot of bumping from out of the starting gate can go on, especially with the 2-year-old babies in the Pot O’Gold.
And with the money for races like these, and a chance to advance to the national finals later this year in the three races not named Pot O’Gold, horse owners are expecting trainers with multiple entries to have no favorites.
“That pretty much how it is,” said Magallanes. “I’ve got to have help lined up ahead of time. There is an individual person per horse that handles them. My job is to make sure they handle them correctly and get saddled right.
“It’s usually a pretty good problem to have,” he said.
And there are no real clear-cut favorites in any of the races, Magallanes said.
“This year the competition level of horses that came, I’m gonna say it’s probably the toughest I’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “Everybody is on equal footing.”
Kentucky Derby simulcast
You want to bet on today’s Derby?
The only place in the area to do that will be at Sun Downs, which will broadcast the race — expected to start at 3:24 p.m.
Sun Downs will start the day with a first post at 1 p.m., run four races, take a break for the Derby, then run the day’s last five races.
Trey enters the final weekend with an imaginary bankroll of $161.20, well below the original start of $300.
Today, we’ll start with Kimz Jewel as the first half of the Daily Double and $5 to win.
In the second, it’s Demostest in the second half of the DD, plus a $3 quinella of Demostest and Luna Batesket.
We’re going to box a trifecta of Moments in May, Fly Pole and Feu’s Imp in the third.
In the fourth, we’ll bet $5 across the board on Run to Ground.
For the Kentucky Derby, we’re going to box a trifecta of Vicar’s in Trouble, Chitu and Tapiture.
We’ll box another trifecta of Countess Aluerdine, Cpr First Copy and Vgw Vegas Encore in the fifth.
For the sixth, it’s an exacta box of Marvin’s Magic and Lit’l in Din Boy.
In the seventh, we’ll go with $2 across the board on Cm Undertainfluence.
For the eighth, we’ll take She’s Tops for the first half of the Late Double, and box her with Miss Fun Run for an exacta.
And in the ninth, it’s Ought to Azoom for the second half of the Late Double. Bet $5 to win on him too.
That’s $82 in wagers.
First post at 1 p.m.
FIRST — QH mdn, 3YO&Up, purse $1,300, 330 yards: 1. Fresno Flats. 2. Lajollas Classy Jet. 3. Awesome Corona. 4. Sis Tar. 5. Kimz Jewel.
SECOND — TB mdn, Wash. bred mdns, 3YO&Up, purse $1,300, 4 furlongs: 1. Buckaree. 2. Luna Batesket. 3. You Can Win. 4. Zalajandra. 5. Orfanito. 6. Demostest.
THIRD — TB clm $2,500, Fillies and Mares 3YO&Up who have not won a race in 2014, purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 1. Feu’s Imp. 2. Fly Pole. 3. Tarabunal. 4. Chica Caliente. 5. Shame on Rosie. 6. Moments in May.
FOURTH — TB clm $5,000, 3YO&Up which have never won 3 races, purse $1,500, 4 furlongs: 1. Poppy Love. 2. Ashlee Echo. 3. Margiesdanzindots. 4. Run to Ground. 5. Chunkychipper. 6. Mistymiss.
KENTUCKY DERBY — 3YO, purse $2 million, 1 1/4 mile: 1. Vicar’s in Trouble. 2. Harry’s Holiday. 3. Uncle Sigh. 4. Danza. 5. California Chrome. 6. Samraat. 7. We Miss Artie. 8. General a Rod. 9. Vinceremos. 10. Wildcat Red. 11. Hoppertunity (scratched). 12. Dance With Fate. 13. Chitu. 14. Medal Count. 15. Tapiture. 16. Intense Holiday. 17. Commanding Curve. 18. Candy Boy. 19. Ride On Curlin. 20. Wicked Strong. 21. Pablo Del Monte (scratched).
FIFTH — QH alw, 3YO&Up which have never won 2 races, purse $1,500, 350 yards: 1. Vgw Vegas Encore. 2. Cpr First Copy. 3. Ibafierce Diva. 4. Countess Aluerdine. 5. First Daisy. 6. Kevins Last Shot. 7. Runnin Ona Dream. 8. Sheza Dash for Honor.
SIXTH — Jack Yearout Memorial, TB clm $4,000, 3YO&Up which have never won a race in 2014, purse $1,600, 6 1/2 furlongs: 1. Soaring Like Eagle. 2. Lit’l in Din Boy. 3. Marvin’s Magic. 4. Easy Six. 5. Senator D. 6. Wild Again Shamus. 7. Liberated Girl.
SEVENTH — Sun Downs/AQHA Maiden Challenge Finals, 3YO&Up, Challenge enrolled, that nominated and qualified in trials, purse $17,112, 350 yards: 1. Js Mr Jazz. 2. Hittin the Mark. 3. Midway Monster. 4. Cm Undertainfluence. 5. Miss Kitty Zoom. 6. Wings Like Eagles. 7. One Prompt Outlaw. 8. Hyho Travio. 9. El Chicharito. 10. Rock de Noche.
EIGHTH — Jim Smith Ribbons and Lace Handicap, Fillies and Mares 3YO&Up, purse $3,000, 6 furlongs: 1. Miss Fun Run. 2. Tizabrightness. 3. Lorna From Belize. 4. She’s Tops. 5. Allusha. 6. Donna Sha Lei Lei.
NINTH — Sun Downs/Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Finals, 3YO&Up, Challenge enrolled, that nominated and qualified in trials, purse $15,030, 350 yards: 1. Rf Pistol Pete. 2. Sollovino. 3. Ought to Azoom. 4. Eyes Movin. 5. Fm Sweet Corona. 6. Ncc Shakool. 7. Eyez On Brimmer. 8. Bellingham.