The biggest payday of the opening weekend at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club came in Sunday’s fifth race, the $18,937 RMTC Markel Bonus Challenge.
Red-hot Freddy Fuentes guided the William Leech-trained Tiny Flying Corona home two lengths ahead of the pack to give owner Charles Stojan the winner’s share of the purse, $10,037.
Tiny Flying Corona has never been worse than second in 11 starts, with seven of those finishes in the top position. The sorrel gelding covered the 300 yard course in 15:55 seconds.
Tiny is by Tiny’s First Corona out of PJ Phoebes Flying by Chicks Beduino and was bred in California.
Janice and Barry Sather, with Cruisinfourabruisin, were next in line with Jose O. Rocha in the irons.
After only two days it’s evident who the riders are the smart fans are placing their money on. Sunday Freddy Fuentes racked up three more wins, to give him six on the weekend. Right in the mix with Freddy is Jose O. Rocha.
“Freddie is one of our new jockeys… we’ve had a bunch of new riders come in this year and they look pretty good so far,” said RMTC CEO Max Gibb.
Veteran trainer Pete Dubois hit the winner’s circle Sunday when Majestic Lass took the honours in the sixth race. Pete is a former trainer of the year at the RMTC and is still a tough hand to beat.
And speaking of former top trainers and tough guys to beat, 86-year-old Stan Marks started 2016 off on the right foot Sunday afternoon when his Excess Baggage topped the field in the seventh race. One of the new riders, Martin Ortiz was aboard for the wining ride.
For those who followed a newcomer on the opening Rocky Mountain Turf Club card Saturday, they went away with a big smile.
Freddy Fuentes rode three winners on the eight-race card, etching his name on racegoers minds likely for the entire Spring Meet.
Freddy’s win in the fifth race was aboard Janice and Barry Sather’s Tailor Tac, the gelding’s first win since Scott Sterr brought it home on top in the Canada B Cup sprint in September of 2013.
Gibb expressed pleasure with the opening weekend, with the exception of some scratches in a Quarter horse race opening day. “But our opening was mostly good, and the weather, while not great, was okay, making for a fast track.”
Jose O. Rocha opened and closed Saturday’s card with a win, his first coming on Kainai Chief Charlie Weaselhead’s and Jim Plume’s Go Jessin Beaver in the 350-yard AQHA Maiden Challenge Trials. Then Jose closed out the card aboard Lyle Magnuson’s venerable General Day, over a distance of five furlongs.
Go Jessin Beaver is by Apolitical Jess out of Corona Del Valle by Carona Cartel and was bred in Alberta by WBD Ranch Inc.
The biggest payout Saturday came in the sixth race, another five furlong affair, when Juan Apango brought Allan Goodsell’s Stopped Short home on top to pay 16.40, 14.170 and 12.40.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE… A nice crowd enjoyed the opening weekend of racing under cool, but tolerable conditions… Fuentes picked up his other two wins Saturday aboard Elly Rutherford’s Igot Adeal and a Laurie Ferguson trained filly, Concealed Attraction… Veteran jockey Scott Sterr is back in the irons for the Spring meet after missing virtually all of last season… This initial weekend marked the first time in a dog’s age that RMTC racing hasn’t begun on Mother’s Day and the Kentucky Derby weekend… Next racing at Whoop-Up Downs is this Saturday, Sunday and Monday with post time each day 1:15 p.m.