06/04/2009 12:00AM

Owner doubles his derby thrill


Just getting this far is an accomplishment, the owner says. So many other owners share the same dream.

Mark Allen had such thoughts on Wednesday. He was talking about Mine That Bird's potentially historic run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes, and another scenario closer to his Roswell, N.M., home.

A few hours after the Belmont Stakes, Allen's Double Eagle Ranch will have two starters in the $308,267 Ruidoso Quarter Horse Derby at Ruidoso Downs, the famed Quarter Horse track in southern New Mexico. Shaboomator and Time for a Cigar are part of a field of 10.

"To qualify for a derby in Ruidoso is wild," he said. "We jumped up and qualified two. I sure hope we can win."

Allen will have to settle for watching the Ruidoso Derby on television from New York. He will focus on Time for a Cigar's start, which has been a weakness for the colt.

"He gets too relaxed in [the gate]," Allen said. "He doesn't do anything wrong. If we can get the colt leaving there, he'll be hard to outrun."

Shaboomator and Time for a Cigar are trained by Tony Sedillo, and both are running in their first major stakes. They qualified for the Ruidoso Derby through time trials on May 23. Time for a Cigar won his 400-yard division in 19.46 seconds, the second-fastest qualifying time, while Shaboomator finished fourth in a separate division with a time of 19.69 seconds, just squeaking into the final.

"I'd probably give the advantage to Cigar," Allen said, assessing his chances.

Time for a Cigar has won 2 of 5 starts. He was winless in three starts at 2, including a fourth in a division of the All American Futurity trials last August. This year, Time for a Cigar is unbeaten in two starts, the first of which was a maiden win at Sunland Park in February.

Shaboomator has 1 win in 7 starts, a futurity trial at Ruidoso Downs in May 2008. He was beaten a length in the Ruidoso Derby trials over a muddy surface.

"The first 30 yards it was like he was ice skating," Allen said. "He could not get a hold of the track. When he got a hold of it, he came running."

Allen's starters must beat Brenda Beautiful, who won two futurities at Zia Park last year and was the Quarter Horse champion 2-year-old filly of 2008.

Quarter Horses are an integral part of horse racing for the people behind Mine That Bird. Co-owner Dr. Leonard Blach operates Buena Suerte Equine in Roswell, which stands four Quarter Horse stallions. Trainer Chip Woolley has Quarter Horses in his New Mexico stable.

When Allen returns home to New Mexico, keeping track of his Ruidoso-based Quarter Horses will occupy his time, particularly the 2-year-old hopefuls for the All American Futurity later this year.

They are a cherished part of a stable having a unique year.

"It's starting to hit me," Allen said. "It's pretty overwhelming."