Horse racing’s biggest event of the year is upon us.
That’s also true for Sun Downs race track at Benton County Fairgrounds, where a live feed of the Kentucky Derby will be folded in with Saturday’s 10-race card in Kennewick. It includes the $10,000 Dick Monahan AQHA Maiden Challenge and the $10,000 AQHA Bonus Challenge. First post is at 1 p.m.
Fans at Sun Downs can even place bets on the Kentucky Derby while enjoying some of the finest jockeys in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s the thrill of the race. It’s like any sport. It’s like going to a football game or a baseball game or a car race,” Sun Downs racing secretary and starter Shorty Martin said. “It’s a sport of competition.”
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Nobody will feel that more than trainer Hector Magallanes, who will have two horses — Beduin Flights, ridden by Jake Samuels, and Mountnbound Princess, ridden by J. Jesus Afanador — entered in the Dick Monahan Challenge. On Sunday, he’ll have two more horses — For Sweet Jess, with Afanador aboard, and Tickle Ur Fancy, jockeyed by Samuels — in the $30,000 Pot O’ Gold Futurity finals.
“I’ve had two from my barn in the top three races this year (his horse Angel Eyez won the Boekenoogen Memorial on April 17),” Magallanes said. “That makes it a little more nerve-wracking.”
Believe it or not, his horses can feel it, too.
“They know what’s to come,” Magallanes said. “Horses know. You start messing with them a little more, wrapping legs. They start to figure it out. All minds are different. Some take it better than others. You don’t want them draining themselves. You have to do what you can to keep them calm.”
A Real Steal 613, jockeyed by Kassie Guglielmino and owned by Juan Leon, holds the top qualifying time in the 350-yard Dick Monahan Challenge in 17.93 seconds, followed by Quematierras (17.97) and Runawayheart (18.01). But fast qualifying times aren’t the only factor in determining a winner.
“I don’t care if you’ve got the best horse. In these sprint races, one mistake and you’re out,” Magallanes said. “Sometimes (the top qualifying time) is the kiss of death. I’ve been the last horse and won it.”
Magallanes said that post position also can play into a horse’s mentality.
“I don’t like the No. 1 hole,” he said. “They’re the ones that have to go in and stand the longest. They’re sprinters, and they get worked up and antsy. By the time they load the last horses in a 10-horse load, any noise can set (the No. 1 horse) off.”
Martin said Sun Downs has enjoyed some strong handles in its first two weekends and is hoping to close the 2015 season with a bang.
“We’ve had a really good meet, probably the best we’ve had with the economy the way it is,” Martin said. “I’m inspired all the time.”
Coming into the final weekend, Trey is down to $166.10 out of the initial (imaginary) bankroll of $300 and could use some good fortune.
We’ll start Saturday by selecting Frankie Valentine as the first half of our daily double and add Bitaheaven for a $5 quinella.
Go with In Absolute Awe as the second half of the daily double in the second race. Also, we’re going with a $12 trifecta box of In Absolute Awe, Our Merv (IRE) and Seattle Biscut.
In the third, we’ll box another trifecta (you can’t win big if you don’t bet big) with Karime Tothemountain, Zroxstar and Flash a Look for $12.
Poppy Love looks like a good bet in the fourth race. Bet $6 across the board.
The fifth race is a good time for a $4 exacta box with Wrs Peggys Pride and Wanna Be Fierce.
Trey is going to bet the Derby, too. He’ll take American Pharoah to win ($2), plus an across-the-board bet on Bolo ($6), a grass-horse long shot who might surprise some people on a dirt track.
In the sixth race, take Stormello Fello across the board for $6.
In the Dick Monahan Challenge, Trey has a good feeling about A Real Steal 613, so we’ll try a $5 quinella box with Cm Mo Baby.
Soaring Like Eagle and Silent Punch look like a good duo for a $4 exacta box in the eighth.
In the ninth, bet Cascade Dynamite across the board with Ruben Camacho aboard. Don’t forget to bet Cascade Dynamite on the late daily double.
Finally, bet Marshland as the second half of the late daily double, and let’s go out with a $12 trifecta box of Marshland, Tiz a Classic and Mister Messenger in the 10th.
That’s $90 in wagers on the day.
Saturday’s Sun Downs entries
First post: 1 p.m.
FIRST — QH maiden, 2YO, Purse $1,050, 300 yards: 1. Chances Royal Dash. 2. Freaky Chick. 3. Bitaheaven. 4. Shimmie Horn. 5. Agustus Meyer. 6. Frankie Valentine.
SECOND — TB maiden, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,300, 4 furlongs: 1. Chatterboy. 2. Seattle Biscut. 3. Suzie Baladon. 4. In Absolute Awe. 5. Our Merv (IRE). 6. Money Storm.
THIRD — QH maiden, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,300, 330 yards. 1. Ringoh. 2. Sheza Jazzy Chick. 3. Karime Tothemountain. 4. Snow Beauty. 5. Runnin Ina Blurr. 6. Jealous Jess. 7. Zroxstar. 8. Enriques Miracle. 9. Flash a Look.
FOURTH —TB claiming, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,600, 4 furlongs: 1. Midnitesruntoglory. 2. Poppy Love. 3. Foolish Chopper. 4. Austincitynights. 5. Chat n’ Cut. 6. Once. 7. Private Ride. 8. Grandy Andy.
FIFTH — QH allowance, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,500, 350 yards: 1. Ms Special Swinger. 2. Wrs Peggys Pride. 3. Wanna Be Fierce. 4. Coutness Aluerdine. 5. Lil Diamond A. 6. Givemesumcorona. 7. Its a Royal Star.
KENTUCKY DERBY — Grade 1 TB, 3YO, Purse $2,000,000, 1 1/4 miles: 1. Ocho Ocho Ocho. 2. Carpe Diem. 3. Materiality. 4. Tencendur. 5. Danzig Moon. 6. Mubtaahij. 7. El Kabeir. 8. Dortmund. 9. Bolo. 10. Firing Line. 11. Stanford. 12. International Star. 13. Itsaknockout. 14. Keen Ice. 15. Frosted. 16. War Story. 17. Mr. Z. 18. American Pharoah. 19. Upstart. 20. Far Right. 21. Frammento. 22. Tale of Verve.
SIXTH — TB claiming, 3YO&Up, Purse $2,150, 4 furlongs: 1. Spirit Bear. 2. Via Zavata. 3. Dillon’s Dynamite. 4. Stormello Fello. 5. Guzzlingin. 6. De Heatison.
SEVENTH — Dick Monahan AQHA Maiden Challenge, 3YO&Up, Purse $10,000, 350 yards: 1. Ojango. 2. Cm Mo Baby. 3. A Tree Dash. 4. Jacango. 5. Letsgokachinkaching. 6. Runawayheart. 7. Beduin Flights. 8. Quematierras. 9. A Real Steal 613. 10. Mountnbound Princess.
EIGHTH — TB claiming, 3YO&Up, Purse $2,000, 6 furlongs: 1. Mr Mahal. 2. Shakalaka. 3. Soaring Like Eagle. 4. Steel Blue. 5. Declan Downs. 6. Denny Vee. 7. Silent Punch. 8. Mr Gnarly.
NINTH — Sun Downs AQHA Bonus Challenge, 3YO&Up, Purse $10,000, 350 yards: 1. Cascade Dynamite. 2. Wild N Sexy. 3. Bellingham. 4. Sneakin Tr. 5. Seperatefromdarest. 7. Tsunami Kidd. 8. Cm Got Overserved. 9. Sollovino. 10. Catlow Rim.
TENTH — TB claiming, 3YO&Up, Purse $1,500, 6 furlongs: 1. Pick One for Me. 2. Marshland. 3. Tiz a Classic. 4. Penngrove. 5. Splashmee. 6. Mister Messenger.