11/01/2007 11:00PM

Reporting for Duty targets Zia Derby

EmailReporting for Duty, second to Going Ballistic in the Oklahoma Derb, is heading west. Trainer Steve Asmussen said the colt is being pointed for the $100,000 Zia Park Derby. The 1 1/16-mile race will be held at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M. on Dec. 8.

Reporting for Duty closed from 10 lengths back in the Oklahoma Derby, which was his first start since June. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 96.

"It was a very good race, arguably his best race yet," said Asmussen.

Reporting for Duty had last started on June 2, finishing third in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby. Prior to that race, he was fifth in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby and second in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby. The layoff between the Ohio and Oklahoma derbies was the result of a cut to his eyelid, said Asmussen.

"It's disappointing he missed so much financial opportunity over such a simple thing," he said. "But on the other hand, we're extremely fortunate that he's back to himself."

Reporting for Duty races for Bob and Cathy Zollars, who along with Asmussen won the inaugural Zia Park Derby in 2005 with millionaire Real Dandy. Like Reporting for Duty, Real Dandy came into the Zia Derby off a runner-up finish in the Oklahoma Derby.

Valenzuela, Talamo to ride at Zia

Jockey Pat Valenzuela was scheduled to return from a layoff of almost a year this weekend at Zia. He is named to ride four horses at the track Sunday, and was also booked on four on Saturday. Valenzuela has missed the last 11 months due to injuries. He is trying to get licensed in Southern California so he can ride during the upcoming meet at Hollywood Park.

Valenzuela's first mount on Sunday comes in the sixth race aboard Bandzini, trained by perennial New Mexico leader Henry Dominguez. Valenzuela is named next in the eighth, an optional claiming sprint in which he will ride Lorenzon for trainer Jon Arnett. In the ninth, Valenzuela is named on Sand Spirit, and in the 11th race, he's on F.E. Threeofourcat.

Joe Talamo, the 17-year-old sensation who ranks among the leading jockeys at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, is booked to ride during the $2 million New Mexico Cup program at Zia on Nov. 11. The horse bringing him to town is Silver Expression, whose three stakes wins include the $125,000 La Senora Handicap in January at Sunland Park. Silver Expression is being pointed for the $140,000 New Mexico Cup Filly.

Talamo won the last riding title at Fair Grounds and is now based in Southern California.

"He'll be in for the day," said Ron Ebanks, the rider's agent who on Friday had two other mounts confirmed for New Mexico Cup Day and was working on lining up others for Talamo.

Handicappers advance to title event

Judy Wagner, the 2001 winner of the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship, is one of nine horseplayers who have qualified for the upcoming championship through Louisiana Downs. She gained a spot in Jan. 25-26 finale in Las Vegas via a pick four contest.

Wagner, of New Orleans, clinched her spot with a big hit on Super Derby Day.

Others who qualified through a meet-long pick four contest were Steve Wolfson Sr., the father of the 2003 championship winner, Steve Wolfson Jr.; Ron Geary, the president of Ellis Park, and his son, Mark Geary; Sean Alfortish, the president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association; Paul Shurman of Dix Hills, N.Y, who led all players in the pick four contest; and Gilson Fontz of Millersville, Md.

Louisiana Downs also conducted an Oct. 6 qualifying tournament for the national championship. The first two finisher, Mayer Kanter of Sioux City, Iowa, and John Cameron of Dallas, both are headed to Las Vegas.

Sunland next for Yonegwa

Yonegwa, a sharp 2-year-old who won his third straight stakes last Sunday in the $55,000 Governor's at Zia, is being pointed for the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland on Dec. 30, said his trainer, Bennie Woolley Jr. For his win in the Governor's, Yonegwa earned a career-best Beyer of 88.

o Alina, who won the $50,000 Gaylord Memorial for 2-year-old fillies last month at Remington, may head to Delta Downs for her next start, said her trainer, Bruce Jackson. She is being considered for the $100,000 My Trusty Cat on Nov. 9, or could await the $300,000 Delta Princess on Dec. 7.

o Jess Jackson, one of the owners of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, earlier this year established the "Curlin for Kids Foundation" and recently awarded some funds from it to children's charities in Arkansas and Kentucky. Curlin won this year's Arkansas Derby.

* Seeking the Lead, who in his two-turn debut ran a strong second in the $100,000 MEC Mile for 2-year-olds last month at Remington, could make his next start in Remington's $50,000 Centennial on Dec. 1, said his trainer, Joe Petalino.

* The documentary "The First Saturday in May" will be part of a new film festival in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday. It is scheduled to be shown at 4:45 p.m. at the AMC Palace 9.