Prospect To The Top Favored in Zia Championship

Winner earns Champion of Champions berth.

Q-Racing Journal
November 19, 2013

Joel Tavarez’s champion Prospect To The Top tries to earn a berth in the $750,000 Champion of Champions (G1) as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the $150,000 Zia Park Championship (G1) on Saturday afternoon at the Hobbs, New Mexico, track.

This is the first year that the Zia Park Championship winner earns a starting berth in the Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos.

Also on the program is the $140,000 New Mexico Fillies and Mares Championship (RG1) with Call Me A Blazin Chic installed as the 3-1 choice.

Prospect To The Top has everything going his way coming into the 440-yard Zia Park Championship: He adores Zia Park, is the defending winner and rides a four-race winning streak, with each of those wins coming in stakes.

The 2011 champion 3-year-old colt and 2012 champion aged stallion, Prospect To The Top (Coronas Prospect-Cream To The Top by Easily Smashed) is in top form as a 5-year-old who stood his second season at stud last spring. He will stand at Lazy E Ranch in 2014.

Before his 2013 trip to the breeding barn, Prospect To The Top won last year’s Zia Park Championship by 1 3/4 lengths and then took the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) by a half length as the 5-2 choice.

After the breeding season, he was the odds-on choice in his two starts leading up to the Zia Park Championship. Trainer Brandon Muniz placed Prospect To The Top in a deep All American Gold Cup (G3), and he fought to a head win. The stallion returned to Zia Park and again faced a challenge before defeating Jess Cuevo by a neck in the $55,000 James Isaac Hobbs Stakes (G2).

Prospect To The Top has won the major race for his age division at Zia Park for the past three years. He won the 2010 $313,499 Hobbs America Futurity (G2) and the 2011 $151,659 Hobbs America Derby (G2) before taking last year’s Zia Park Championship. If he wins Saturday’s Zia Park Championship, he will join champion Ketel Won (2007-08) as the only two-time winners of the stakes.

Crowson Racing’s Jess Cuervo (Corona Cartel-Jessica Ravin by Mr Jess Perry) is back for another try at Prospect To The Top. Jess Cuervo was second to Prospect To The Top in the James Isaac Hobbs, but came back to win the $55,000 Lovington Stakes (G2) for trainer Anna Marie Crowson. He also has seconds this year in the $95,000 West Texas Maturity (G2) at Sunland Park and the $30,000 Higheasterjet Handicap (G3) at Ruidoso Downs.

The 2011 champion 2-year-old colt, Feature Mr Bojangles (Feature Mr Jess-Catch This Dash by First Down Dash) has been close in his three starts this year, beaten by a neck in each race, but has yet to break through with a win. The Paul Jones-trained 4-year-old was third in the All American Gold Cup, fourth in the $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap (G1) and second to Jess Cuervo in the Lovington Stakes.

J and M Racing and Farms’ Call Me A Blazn Chic (Chicks A Blazin-Willie Call Me by Calyx) is positioned in the New Mexico Fillies and Mares Championship for her first win since taking last year’s edition of the 400-yard dash for New Mexico-bred distaffers.

Call Me A Blazn Chic prevailed by a neck as the 13-10 favorite in last year’s running to cap a three-race winning streak, the longest of her 17-race career. Since then, she was a very troubled seventh in the $85,000 Lou Wooton Handicap (RG2) at Sunland Park in December. The Kris Kordova-trained mare was off until a fourth-place run in the $55,000 Lubbock Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares in September and then was sixth against the New Mexico-bred boys in the $170,480 Namehimastreaker New Mexico Classic Cup Championship (RG1), her most recent start.

Rita Danley’s Ofashionsoutherngirl (Southern Corona-Cowgirl Cadilac by Celedon) is the hot filly stepping up in class with four straight wins, including the $49,648 New Mexico Breeders Derby (R) at The Downs at Albuquerque. The Fred Danley-trained 3-year-old then dominated a New Mexico-bred allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths to prepare for the Fillies and Mares Championship.