12/03/2010 4:00PM

Quindici Man figures to get better set-up in Zia Distance Championship

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Benoit & Associates
Quindici Man, winning the 2009 Pomona Derby, will bring along Southern California rider Patrick Valenzuela for Sunday's Zia Distance Championship.

Quindici Man found himself at a pace disadvantage right from the start in his last race, but it does not appear that will be the case on Sunday when he meets front-runners Jardim, Soul Warrior, and Imco Spirit in the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship.

The 1 1/8-mile handicap is one of three stakes on the card at Zia, the Hobbs, N.M. track that closes out its meet on Tuesday. The $120,000 Eddy County for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico drew European shipper Coeur, while Noconi is the horse to beat in the Grade 1, $150,000 Quarter Horse Championship.

Quindici Man comes into the Distance Championship off a third-place finish in the $125,000 Delta Downs Mile in Vinton, La., on Nov. 20. He had one horse beat in the early stages of the race, then rallied for third to wire-to-wire winner Z Humor.

“He needs pace up front and he didn’t get much pace at Delta,” said Craig Lewis, who trains Quindici Man for Six-S Racing Stable. “The horse that won is a nice horse. He relaxed on the lead and it’s tough to run a horse down under those circumstances.”

Quindici Man has long been pointed for the Distance Championship, said Lewis. The horse, who is based in Southern California, shipped into New Mexico last year and won the $150,000 Zia Park Derby. Prior to that start, he had won the $50,000 Jack Coady Sr. at Turf Paradise.

“He’s a very consistent horse and a very durable horse mentally and physically,” Lewis said. “We’ve moved him about quite a bit, and if he didn’t have such a strong constitution, that would not be advisable. He’s a tough horse. He runs.”

Quindici Man picked up his last stakes win in October, when he took the $53,000 Bull Dog at 1 1/8 miles at Fresno. Patrick Valenzuela, who was aboard the horse in the Delta Mile, will make the trip from his Southern California base to ride him on Sunday.

Quindici Man will break from the rail, and might get a nice pace to chase with the presence of such a horse as Jardim. He was a front-running winner of the $104,000 Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park in his last start Oct. 2. Jardim won off by seven lengths to earn a career-best Beyer Figure of 96. And, he has been flattered since that race, with the third-place finisher, Z Humor, coming back in his next start to take the Delta Mile, and the eighth-place finisher, Sundarban, returning to win a conditioned allowance race at Mountaineer.

Jon Court has the mount on Jardim for trainer Eduardo Caramori.

Soul Warrior is the 119-pound highweight Sunday. He made his first start since the 2009 Super Derby in an allowance at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, and dueled before finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile race. Earlier in his career, Soul Warrior won the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. Justin Shepherd has the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Double Shuffle invades from Canada, where he has won five of his last six starts between Northlands Park and Assiniboia Downs.

◗ Coeur, who made her career debut last out in England, will meet males in the Eddy County at one mile. Janna Pride, a winner of a first-level allowance at the distance at Zia on Nov. 16, and Beau Wizer, who is multiple stakes-placed, appear to be the top contenders Sunday.