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Jimmy Drake Stakes split into two divisions Friday at SunRay

River Flash and jockey Adrian Ramos arrive at the winner’s circle after capturing the $100,000 (R-G3) New Mexico Breeders Stakes, April 24, 2022 at SunRay Park and Casino.
New Mexico-bred quarter horse stakes race drew over 20 entries

FARMINGTON – A pair of attractive quarter horse stakes races will highlight Friday afternoon action at SunRay Park and Casino when two divisions of the Jimmy Drake Stakes will reach the starting gate.

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One of the stronger stakes races of the season at SunRay Park attracted 21 horses to the entry box last weekend, allowing track management to split the 400-yard stakes race into two divisions, each racing for identical purse money of $100,000.

The first division of the Drake, which will go as the seventh race on the card with a scheduled post time of 5:03 p.m., will be headlined will multiple stakes winner HS Paul Walker, an earner of nearly $300,000 while winning eight races from 33 starts.

The New Mexico-bred, 7-year-old son of Osbaldo, most recently finished second at Sunland Park on Feb. 11 in the Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap. Before that, the Alfredo Gomez trainee had crossed the wire first in three straight races, including the Red Or Green Handicap on Jan. 7 at Sunland Park.

He was disqualified from first and placed fourth for interference in the New Mexico Classic Championship Stakes on Oct. 30, 2022 at Zia Park.

Owned by Hubaldo Solis, HS Paul Walker will again be ridden by Hector Aldrete ion the first division of the Drake Stakes and will break from post seven as the 3-to-1 morning line favorite.

HS Paul Walker (outside) and jockey Hector Aldrete, narrowly reach the finish line ahead of Fly On Down in the $100,000 Red or Green Stakes (RG-II) on Jan. 7, 2023 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Late on the same card, the second division of the Drake Stakes will reach the starting gate. Scheduled as the ninth race on the card with a post time of 5:59 p.m., a full field of 10 will be headlined by Robert Driggers and Ben Lee Ivey’s talented 4-year-old River Flash.

Trained by Wes Giles and slated to be ridden again by Adrian Ramos, River Flash is a nine-time winner and already owns a stakes win at SunRay Park. The son of Chicks Regard was an impressive winner of the New Mexico Breeders’ Stakes over this course on April 24, 2022.

Since that time, he has rattled off six straight wins, including scores in the Mountain Top Derby and Zia Derby last summer at Ruidoso Downs, as well as the $288,000 New Mexico State Fair Derby at Albuquerque Downs.

This will be the first start of the year for River Flash, who hasn’t been out for nearly seven months. He has earned more than $407,000 in his career and is likely to be sent off as the post time favorite from post eight in the starting gate.

Aldrete and Gomez may be sitting on a sweep of the Drake Stakes if longshot Cartel Drunk Playboy can overcome his outside post in the second division.

Listed at 8-to-1 on the morning line, the son of Big Daddy Cartel won a race over this course last year, is coming off a strong win last time out at Sunland Park and may be rounding up to another big effort.

Friday’s all-quarter horse card gets underway at 2:15 p.m. Racing at SunRay Park goes through Sunday, May 21.