12/09/2010 6:00PM

Ducky Drake still solid stakes performer at age 8

Coady Photography
Ducky Drake, who won the KLAQ Handicap in 2007, will try to repeat the feat on Saturday.

Ducky Drake is less than a month from turning 9, but he is coming into Saturday’s $50,000 KLAQ Handicap at Sunland Park in top form. The 5 1/2-furlong race opens the stakes program at the New Mexico track, and it will share a card with the $120,000 Jess Burner Memorial for Quarter Horses, which drew Grade 1 winner One Diamond Kitty.

Ducky Drake has won six stakes, the latest coming at Zia Park on Nov. 14. He took the $55,000 Lea County by a neck, one race after winning a $40,000 optional claimer at Zia Oct. 19. The wins came following a summer freshening, and Ducky Drake has now won a total of 15 races from 40 starts, for earnings of $485,939.

“He’s been a good old horse for a lot of years,” said Bart Hone, who trains Ducky Drake for his breeders, Ralph and Aury Todd. “We haven’t run him a lot, and we give him a little bit of break here and there, and he just seems to maintain his get up and go.”

Hone said it doesn’t surprise him that Ducky Drake has continued to run so competitively later in life. The Todds, he said, also bred The Tin Man, who raced from 2001 to 2007.

“They raise durable horses, and good ones besides that,” said Hone.

Ducky Drake, a California-bred son of Benchmark, came rolling from last to win his second Lea County last month. He earned a Beyer Figure of 89, the best last-race Beyer in the KLAQ. Ducky Drake will be seeking his second win in the KLAQ Saturday, as he took the race in 2007.

Miguel Hernandez has the mount on Ducky Drake, who will break from post 3.

The chief threat in the six-horse field might be Kineticat Yankee, a candidate to control the pace. He used his speed to wire the field in the $40,000 Free Spirit at Ruidoso Downs on Aug. 28, then was overtaken on the wire in the Lea County. Juan Ochoa has the mount for trainer Weston Martin.

◗ One Diamond Kitty won the Grade 1 New Mexico Challenge Championship in her last start Oct. 31, and will be returning to the statebred ranks for the Jess Burner. The race is a restricted Grade 1.