12/23/2008 12:00AM

Lefty Who has own streak


The Quarter Horse owner-trainer combination of R.D. Hubbard and Paul Jones as well as Thoroughbred trainer Joel Marr are well positioned to continue long-running hot streaks in stakes races this weekend at Sunland Park.

Hubbard and Jones have won six graded Quarter Horse stakes in New Mexico - two Grade 1's - since Labor Day weekend. They will send out champion Ketel Won to defend his title in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 The Championship at Sunland Park and fastest qualifier Three Past Six in Sunday's Grade 2, $123,000 Sunland Park Winter Derby.

Marr, who campaigns the 19-for-19 Peppers Pride, has the undefeated juvenile Lefty Who in Saturday's $125,000 Red Hedeman Mile for New Mexico-breds.

Lefty Who was overlooked while Peppers Pride set the modern North American record for consecutive wins. But race by race he has developed into the top New Mexico-bred juvenile while building a four-race win streak. After winning a maiden race at Ruidoso Downs in June, he stepped up to the stakes division to win the $115,000 Rio Grande Senor Futurity at Ruidoso Downs and then captured the $152,000 New Mexico Classic Cup Colts and Geldings Stakes and the $129,000 Eddy County Stakes at Zia Park. Like Peppers Pride, each of his starts have come against statebred company.

Owned by Sam Stevens, Lefty Who made his only start around two turns in the one-mile Eddy County on Dec. 7. He rated off the pace and then took the lead in the stretch. He showed his grit, holding off Spring to Teras by a neck.

Ketel Won's two Grade 1 wins last year came in the Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship and The Championship at Sunland Park. He was honored as the champion aged horse and champion aged stallion. In his most recent start, he rallied to successfully defend his victory in the Zia Park Quarter Horse Championship and once again has become a prime championship contender. He also has a win in the Grade 3 All American Gold Cup - a race he also won in 2007 - and a second in the Grade 2 Lovington Handicap this year.

Ketel Won is making his final career start before beginning his breeding career at the JEH Stallion Station in Hondo, N.M.

Challenging Ketel Won, who has been favored in his previous five starts, are Grade 1 Champion of Champions runner-up Little Bit of Baja, Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner A Stoli Mate, Grade 1 Refrigerator Handicap winner Diamond Tres Seis, and three-time Grade 1 derby winner DMNV Mountable.

Three Past Six has rewarded her connections this fall after returning from a nearly 15-month layoff that caused the promising filly to miss many lucrative futurities and derbies. Owned by Hubbard and Dennis Monroe, the filly was third in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity in June 2007 and was laid off after making her subsequent start in the Rainbow Futurity trials.

She returned this fall at Zia Park, rejoining the top tier of her division with a second behind stablemate Noconi in the Grade 2 Hobbs American Derby. Noconi had become a championship contender two starts earlier, with his win over champion Heartswideopen in the Grade 1, $1,066,000 All American Derby for Hubbard.

Three Past Six led the qualifiers to the Sunland Winter Derby when she won her trial by a neck over second-fastest qualifier As Takin First. Her time of 19.035 seconds for 400 yards led the qualifiers from four trials.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the Grade 2, $209,000 Sunland Winter Futurity has Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship winner Unbridled Jet and fastest-qualifier Hesa Special Oreille, each after his fifth straight win.

Unbridled Jet has finished in the top two in 8 of 9 career starts and has two stakes wins during his winning streak. His most important win came when he won the Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship by 2 1/4 lengths two starts ago.

Hesa Special Oreille compiled his winning streak while moving up from a maiden race, to a $25,000 claiming race, to an open allowance race, and then to his derby trial. He set the fastest qualifying time of 19.549 seconds for 400 yards.