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El Paso, TX — Let go at 19-1 odds, Feature Mr Lucky gained a narrow upset win in the 48th running of the $132,883 Sunland Park Winter Quarter Horse Derby on Saturday.
The three-year-old son of Feature Mr Jess won a tightly contested photo finish and collected the second victory of his career in the 400 yard derby. The upstart gelding broke well on the inside and avoided all the traffic and bumping to his outside. Under the talented jockey Raul Gutierrez, Feature Mr Lucky propelled through the stretch for a daring win by a nose margin. He held off furious late rallies from both Joiner runners Distant Fury and Icu Deity.
Winning trainer Jaime Dominguez conditions the rapidly improving Quarter Horse. The 2013 Sunland Winter Quarter Horse Derby champion took home a $62,455 paycheck for owner Jose Saul Medina. Loyal supporters of Feature Mr Lucky received $40.60 on a $2 win ticket. The last time Feature Mr Lucky had reached the winner’s circle was in a maiden $12,500 claiming race at Los Alamitos back on Dec. 14, 2012. He now has 2 wins from 9 career starts.
Distant Fury found his best strides in deep stretch and just missed in second place. Jockey Salvador Martinez was going for his second straight stakes win of the meet coming off a victory aboard Bye Bye Eagle Eye in Friday’s Sunland Park Winter’s Quarter Horse Futurity. Distant Fury closed with energy after bobbling at the start. The daughter of Fdd Dynasty earned $23,919 for owner Billy G. Smith and trainer Mike Joiner.
Icu Deity also closed boldly for the Joiner stable and finished third, beaten a short head. The second Fdd Dynasty offspring was ridden by Ricky Ramirez. Icu Deity was second in the 2013 West Texas Derby. He completed a $1 trifecta worth $1,389.10.
Charvet, the 5-2 post time favorite finished a well beaten sixth and was disqualified for interference and placed ninth.
Proceed remained unbeaten in two starts after scoring a sizzling 4 and 3/4 length win in the $85,000 Red Hedeman Mile. The rising star ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr. overcame trouble on the first turn and still had plenty left to dominate a strong group of New Mexico-bred stakes horses going one mile. Proceed angled out down the backstretch and smoothly moved into striking distance.
The Desert God two-year-old colt swept to the front with a quarter mile go and kicked well clear of the field in upper stretch. Coming off a near 15-length debut maiden win going one mile at Zia Park, Proceed attracted plenty of betting attention and was the 4-5 favorite. He matched the support with an impressive win over D E Lover and double stakes winner Reaper. The Joel Marr trainee sped through the distance in a sharp 1:38.10.
Proceed earned a $51,000 payday for owner Michael Stinson of Ft. Worth, Texas. Marr indicated that Proceed might next be targeted to the $85,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby on Sunday, March 23 going 1 and 1/16 miles.
9-2 shot D E Lover found some momentum late to earn second place under jockey Miguel Perez. Reaper finished two lengths behind in third after setting the pace.
Some of the world’s best Quarter Horses collide on Sunday for the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (Grade 1) going 400 yards. An elite field of 10 will run including defending champion Prospect to the Top, 2011 Championship at Sunland Park winner Cold Cash 123, 2011 Rainbow Futurity winner Feature Mr Bojangles and Hez Our Secret. Sunday’s co-feature is the $85,000 Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap at 1 and 1/16 miles.
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