The 6-5 favorite in a field of six, Calumet Farm's Hence scored a clear 6 1/2-length victory in Saturday's 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Downs at Albuquerque Handicap at Albuquerque Downs.
Ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen, Hence covered his trip in 1:51.04 after rallying on the fractions of :24.17, :47.58, and 1:12.28 established by pacesetter Dynamic Ruler. The homebred 4-year-old son of Street Boss banked $120,000 while earning his third stakes win.
Juarez, currently The Downs' leading Thoroughbred jockey, was riding Hence for the first time since March 26 of the colt's 3-year-old season, when Hence rallied to win the 1 1/8-mile, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park.
“This race set up just like the Sunland Derby,” Juarez said. “We sat behind the leaders early, and when I told him it
was time to go, he just picked it up. I asked him a little bit more when we got to the quarter pole, and then he just started to run away from the other horses.”
Hence was coming off of a sixth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile, $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows on July 6, but the colt crossed the wire just 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Remembering Rita.
“The horse got here a couple of days ago, but that Prairie Meadows race really set him up for this,” said trainer Henry Dominguez, who handled Hence for Asmussen while the colt was in Albuquerque. “Steve had him fit before he sent him here. He was completely prepared to go tonight.”
Hence was winning for the first time since July 7, 2017, when Hall of Fame jockey and New Mexico native Mike Smith rode the colt to a 1 1/2-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) at Prairie Meadows.
Raced at 10 tracks in eight states, Hence has won four of 15 starts, including three stakes, and he has earned $756,231.
Oh So Regal, Pinson, Leadem In Ken, Suddenbreakingnews, and Dynamic Ruler completed the order of finish.
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Also on Saturday, K P Wildcat rallied to win the $55,000 Albuquerque Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares.
Racing for Karl Pergola of Albuquerque and sent to post as the 2-5 favorite in the field of six, K P Wildcat covered 1 mile in 1:37.58, and her margin of victory was three lengths from 25-1 longshot Super Humor. Roimes Chirinos rode the 5-year-old daughter of Include.
K P Wildcat was stretching out in distance off of her come-from-behind 4 1/4-length victory in the 6-furlong, $30,000 First Lady Handicap at Ruidoso Downs on June 3. The mare recorded four morning workouts at Ruidoso in preparation for this race.
“We like having her train in the nice and cool summer environment down there; she just seems to thrive down at Ruidoso,” Pergola said. “She had a tough trip up here this morning, and she lost a shoe in the paddock tonight before the race.
Frankly, I was a little concerned that we weren't going to win this race, but she just turned on the gas like she always does,” he added. “She likes this long stretch here in Albuquerque, and she was able to pull it off.”
K P Wildcat was bred in Kentucky by Cloyce C. Clark Jr. Raced primarily in New Mexico, with just one out at Del Mar in California during her 3-year-old season, the mare has won 12 of 18 starts, including seven stakes, and the $33,000 winner's share of the Albuquerque Distaff purse increased her earnings to $472,636.
K P Wildcat's three wins in four races this season include a one-length victory as the odds-on favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong, $75,000 El Diario Handicap at Sunland Park in February.
“I don't know how many more chances we're going to get to race her,” Pergola said. “Maybe this year will be it for her. We might race her one more time at Zia Park this fall, but then she's going to enjoy her life as a broodmare.
Find Fault finished third, 12 lengths behind K P Wildcat, and was followed by Life Of Illusion, Trick City, and Bar Scene.
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