Zipse: Slammed, Señor Buscador give a little guy big hopes

Zipse: Slammed, Señor Buscador give a little guy big hopes
Photo: Candice Chavez / Eclipse Sportswire

Don’t look now, but a trainer named Todd could be primed for a big weekend at the Breeders’ Cup – and I’m not talking about Pletcher.

Yes, the Hall of Fame conditioner will be well represented, along with the usual suspects of big-name trainers, at the world championships at Keeneland. But it is the unheralded trainer from New Mexico, Todd Fincher, who has been making some real noise of late in Kentucky.

One week after a big win at Churchill Downs with Señor Buscador, the leading trainer at Sunland Park this year brought his star sprinting filly Slammed to Keeneland Saturday, and the result was electrifying.

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight, largely because of a pair of strong races at Del Mar, Slammed went right to the lead in Saturday’s Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2). That, in and of itself, was a task with some very fast Eastern fillies in the field.

Hounded early through solid splits, it turns out the New Mexico-bred daughter of young sire Marking was just getting started.

Turning for home, a challenge was expected but never came. Lengthening her advantage with every stride down the Keeneland stretch, the 4-year-old filly rolled to a 6 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:10.03 under Florent Geroux.


The Breeders' Cup is a long way from her days at Sunland Park, Zia Park, Albuquerque, Ruidoso and Sun Ray Park, but Slammed has proven she belongs in the conversation with the best female sprinters in the land.

Saturday’s romping victory over the host track for this year’s world championships not only earned Slammed a spot in the starting gate for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) on Nov. 5, but she also announced herself as a major contender in the seven-furlong affair.

Trained and co-bred by Fincher, she could be half of a really big afternoon for the New Mexico-based conditioner.

Fincher is best known on the national stage as the trainer of the talented Runaway Ghost, the winner of the 2018 Sunland Derby. Injured shortly before a scheduled trip east for the Kentucky Derby, the son of Ghostzapper won six stakes races overall at Sunland Park and compiled earnings of $783,509.

Fincher, who has been a top trainer in New Mexico for the better part of two decades, did not get to bring Runaway Ghost to the Kentucky Derby. The same can be said for Señor Buscador.

A good-looking winner of the 2020 Springboard Mile at Remington Park, Señor Buscador looked like a Kentucky Derby horse. The son of Mineshaft was well backed against the likes of Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon in his third career start, but his rally in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) came too late.

Señor Buscador would not be seen at the races again for nearly a year and a half. He was sidelined by an ankle injury, but his connections never gave up on him. Now, four races into his 4-year-old season, he looks to be a real threat for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

After a solid third in the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar, Señor Buscador came from off the pace to beat a good field in the Ack Ack (G3). The 1 1/4-length win going a flat mile looks to be an ideal prep for the big assignment at Keeneland.

A son of two horse people, Todd Fincher has been around horses for a long time. He’s had good success as a trainer, winning more than a million dollars in purses in each of the last 14 seasons, but now he could be on the verge of something really big.

In Slammed, who is 9-of-12 overall, and Señor Buscador, an impressive stakes winner at both 2 and 4, the unheralded trainer earned his first two graded-stakes victories outside of New Mexico. It’s a nice story, but it’s far from over.

The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile are there for the taking, and Todd Fincher’s pair have a real chance.

He’s not Baffert, Pletcher or Brown, and that is exactly what makes the story interesting. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a little guy win one of the big ones for a change?

Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to HRN, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing webcast HorseCenter, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars and is a Vox Populi committee member. He is a voter for racing's Hall of Fame, as well as a weekly NTRA poll voter. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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