Championship at Sunland Park Final Quarter Horse Stakes of 2016
The $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) is set for Saturday, December 31. The 400-yard feature attracted a very competitive field with several of the runners in contention for AQHA year-end honors.
Once again, Zoomin Effortlessly and Jessies First Down will duel for another grade 1 win. Zoomin Effortlessly won when they competed against each other in the $200,000 All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs with Jessies First Down prevailing by a head in the Zia Park Championship Saturday afternoon’s stakes will mark another match-up of Zoomin Effortlessly and Jessies First Down. Zoomin Effortlessly is the defending champion and will be ridden by regular pilot, Santos Carrizales. Jessies First Down, with Rodrigo Vallejo in the irons, will cap off the best campaigns of his career. The 5-year-old son of Fdd Dynasty, trained by Judd Kearl, has had a remarkable year, with seven wins at five different racetracks. Sunland Park will be his sixth oval, following victories at Hialeah, Sam Houston, Ruidoso, Lone Star and Zia Park. They are installed as the two favorites and drew side-by-side.
Several others deserve consideration, including millionaire, First Valiant Sign, who will be ridden by AQHA champion jockey, G.R. Carter. The son of Valiant Hero trained by Mike Joiner was a dominant winner of the Texas Classic Derby on November 12 at Lone Star Park. Roman Soldier CD upset First Valiant Sign in a trial to the Rainbow Futurity (G1). He enters the Championship at Sunland Park off another upset win in the Lovington Stakes (G2) at Zia Park. Jockey Esgar Ramirez will pilot Rattle N Battle, an Oklahoma-bred son of Apollitcal Jess, who is 12-1 on the morning line. Ramirez has won 77 races this year and leads all riders in North America with purses of $4.3 million. With victories in both the All American Futurity and Derby, Ramirez looks to be one of the front-runners for AQHA champion jockey honors. An upset win in the Championship at Sunland Park would all but clinch the title for the talented rider.
Good luck to each of the connections in the Championship at Sunland Park! The December 31 card begins at 12:45 pm and also includes the running of the $200,000 Winter Juvenile Championship with All American Futurity winner Imperial Eagle leading the field.