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HRN Original Blog:
New Mexico

The KOFX Handicap and More Lessons Learned

Sometimes, all it takes is a confidence boost.

A reminder of what’s important.

I’ve learned a lot about that myself these past couple weeks.

First off, I want to apologize for not being on here as much as I would have liked for the past month or so. Having two, sometimes three, separate job titles to live up to means that some of the luxuries have to be put off to the side.

I did find some time for a little relief, as well as some clarity along the way.

Here’s a short summary of events that have taken place since last we spoke.

Radio shows…. And more radio shows. First Sports in the Morning & The Fast Track

Football games… and more and more and more football games.

I went to see my favorite band, TOOL, in concert -- for a 22nd time. The Band's House

Realized shortly after arriving back home at 3:30 in the morning that I may in fact be getting too old for these sorts of shenanigans.

Got sick.

Got sicker.

Had gunk and goo blown out of my nasal cavities that resembled an X-Files episode.

Began a non-smoking kick (5 days and counting)

And now, here we are… Bright eyed, sunshiney and ready to roll again.

Well, alright… that last part may be crap. But at least we’re here.

I spoke earlier in this blog about confidence boosts.

Saturday’s fourth race at Sunland Park, the Grade 3 $50,000 KOFX-Handicap should be the perfect spot for the multiple stakes winning Rylees Boy to get some of that confidence back for owner/trainer Gerardo Pena-Ochoa.

Rylees Boy, an Arizona-bred son of Heza Motor Scooter, will be making his 7-year-old debut Saturday in the 350-yard dash under his regular rider Joe Ruiz. Rylees Boy comes into this race as far and away the leading money earner and most accomplished runner in the field of 10 older quarter horses.

What Rylees Boy doesn’t have however, is a win in either of his last two starts. 

More than half the field in this race have done that.

Of course, none of those runners have faced the likes of Favorite Cartel and Cold Cash 123.

Rylees Boy, sent off as the 6-to-5 favorite, came up just a neck shy of Favorite Cartel when they hooked up at Los Alamitos last October in the $350,000-added Bank of America Challenge Championship.

In his most recent start, Rylees Boy was beaten a bit more than a length behind eventual 2011 World Champion quarter horse Cold Cash 123 in the Championship at Sunland Park.

Today, Rylees Boy gets in supposedly much easier.

Drawn in the 9 hole in the 10-horse field, Rylees Boy’s main rivals don’t appear to have the same credentials as either Favorite Cartel or Cold Cash 123.

It would be unwise though to just automatically write this race off as a free bingo square for the earner of over $700,000 from 17 lifetime wins.

A Spring Snow, a winner of 13 races in his career, is also seeking to end a losing streak for trainer Hector Jaime Hernandez. 

A Texas-bred son of This Snow Is Royal, A Spring Snow hasn’t been in the winners circle since last August, when he took the OB Cockerell Handicap at Albuquerque Downs.

He was off the board last month in the Zia Park Championship. Prior to that, A Spring Snow was second best as the 4-to-5 favorite behind Double Chiseled in the Lovington Stakes, also at Zia Park.

Still, A Spring Snow, drawn in the 6 hole under jockey Antonio Escareno, does like the course, is rounding back into form right now and may be worth a long look at an inflated 6-to-1 on the morning line.

The two hottest horses coming into the KOFX Handicap are Kool Angel and Corona For You. 

Both these runners have two-race win streaks, but both are facing stiff challenges looking to make it three in a row.

Kool Angel, from the barn of Paul Jones, was sensational winning the Sunland Winter Derby last month. The daughter of First N Kool is undefeated in two starts over the course, but will be facing older stakes company for the first time in her career. Kool Angel will break from the 5 post under jockey Esgar Ramirez and is listed at 8-to-1 on the morning line.

Corona For You, the second choice on the morning line at 4-to-1, ended a four-race losing streak two back when he picked up scores against allowance/optional claiming types over this course for trainer Jose Manuel Barron.

The Cal-bred daughter of Corona For Me is winless in stakes company for nearly 6 months now, but appears to be getting better in her most recent starts and is clearly a must-use in your exotics.

So… the bottom line.

What have we learned from this blog today?

We learned that I should have stopped smoking a long time ago.

That I may in fact be too old to attend another TOOL concert.

Don’t take too short a price on Rylees Boy in Saturday’s fourth race at Sunland Park.

Good luck at the races.

 

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MEET STEVE BORTSTEIN

I have had the pleasure of seeing the business of racing from several unique angles.

As a writer, I enjoy the time spent with horsemen, interviewing some of the most amazing people the sport has to offer.

As a radio talk show host, I get to hear the excitement of the jockey moments after winning a big race and the thunderous noise of a live crowd growing louder as the stretch run gets closer to completion.

As a paddock show host, I see the horses, not just as numbers and statistics on a sheet of paper, but as strong, incredible, vulnerable and energetic animals, capable of either being brilliant or chaotic as any animal at any given moment.

I have been covering the sport of horse racing for nearly 20 years, starting as a young, roving reporter in Southern California before moving to New Mexico in 2002.

I have had the extreme pleasure of watching the sport of kings thrive and succeed here in the Land of Enchantment.

In addition to the incredible quarter horse talent on display here on a daily basis, we’re also blessed to be the home state of record-setter Peppers Pride as well as one of the biggest longshot winners in Kentucky Derby history, Mine That Bird.

I’ll be here frequently offering reports and selections on races throughout the state of New Mexico, from Sunland to Zia, from Albuquerque to Ruidoso, and from my hometown track of SunRay Park and Casino, where I work as paddock show host when I am not doing my “other” job as a radio talk show host on FOX SPORTS AM1340.

Please feel free to let me know if you like or dislike what you see here. I firmly believe you learn something new every day in this sport, so if you have something to teach me, feel free to let me know.

I hope you enjoy the work here and throughout the pages of Horse Racing Nation. I’m proud to be a new member of this extraordinary family.