Updated on 09/17/2011 9:49PM

Rocky Gulch made the heavy in stakes


There's little doubt , a son of Dry Gulch, is the best horse in Saturday's $130,400 New Mexico State University Handicap at Sunland Park. Many see Rocky Gulch as the best horse on the grounds. So when Rocky Gulch takes on eight rivals in the mile contest, he must give them a virtual headstart as the 127-pound highweight.

It's an honor deserved, however, because Rocky Gulch comes off a scintillating season, which earned him honors as the top New Mexico-bred 3-year-old.

Owned by Larry Teague and trained by Terry Walker, Rockey Gulch won 6 of 10 races in 2004, with all six wins coming in stakes races for New Mexico-breds. Rocky Gulch showed he wasn't out of his element when he faced open company. He was a strong second in the Borderland Derby here last February and third in the $500,000 WinStar Derby here in late March.

Rocky Gulch hasn't run since winning the Albert Dominguez Memorial Handicap here on Dec. 19, when he beat Cattleman Prospect by just under a length. He was giving Cattleman Prospect nine pounds that day; on Saturday he must give him 10 pounds. Regular rider J. Martin Bourdieu has the call.

In the Albert Dominguez, on Dec. 19, Cattleman Prospect gave Rocky Gulch a scare. He came back in a strong allowance race here Feb. 5, finishing second, beaten a head as the 6-5 favorite. Alfredo Juarez Jr. rides again for trainer Clay Sparks at 117 pounds.

Hesa Bad Cat, who often races against Quarter Horses, comes off an allowance win here on Jan. 11. Prior to that he was no match for Rocky Gulch in the Nov. 27 Johnie L. Jamison, finishing 10th, beaten over 18 lengths. Hesa Bad Cat is treading out of his element a bit here - he has only raced once beyond a sprint, finishing second going a mile here in this same race last year. Trainer Cal Martin has named Chris Zamora to ride at 120 pounds.

J J Mystique, trained by Ramon Gonzalez, has often finished behind Rocky Gulch, Hesa Bad Cat, and Cattleman Prospect, but looked like a new horse here on Feb. 11 when he dominated a field of New Mexico-bred claiming sprinters. This is obviously a much tougher spot, but he's won before at this distance and a move forward off that last run could make him a player at a price. Ken Tohill rides at 118 pounds.