06/06/2013 1:59PM

Ruidoso Downs: Pyro, A Dream to Remember face off in Ruidoso Derby

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Ruidoso Downs
A Dream to Remember won the 2012 Grade 2 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park.

With a horse named Pyro in the field, and another starter a daughter of Hallowed Dreams, the $822,603 Ruidoso Derby on Saturday seems like it’s a Thoroughbred race. But the 400-yard dash is the first major Quarter Horse stakes of the Ruidoso Downs season in New Mexico, and both Pyro and A Dream to Remember will start as top choices in a field of 10.

The Ruidoso Derby is being run for the 20th time Saturday, and its purse is a record, surpassing the 2011 high of $702,896. Others making up this year’s renewal include Wicked Courage, who is seeking his seventh straight win, and Charvet, the fastest qualifier during trials on May 25.

Pyro, who shares a name with the 2008 Louisiana Derby winner, will be out to turn the tables on A Dream to Remember, whose dam, the Thoroughbred mare Hallowed Dreams, won the first 16 races of her career. A Dream to Remember and Pyro exit the same Ruidoso Derby trial, with A Dream to Remember establishing the second-fastest qualifying time when she covered 400 yards in 19.20 seconds. It was a neck back in second to Pyro, and with the trial being just his second start since last July, Pyro’s trainer, Judd Kearl, believes his horse has reason to move forward Saturday.

“I think that race is going to really help him,” Kearl said. “He had an out at Sam Houston earlier this spring, and had bad luck away from there. He needed the race [at Ruidoso], and needed the out on the racetrack. He’s come back really good. He’s ready to run.”

Pyro, the fourth-fastest qualifier, is a winner of 3 of 6 starts for owner-breeder Kathleen O. Matey.

“He’s as honest as the day is long,” Kearl said, noting Pyro won last year’s Ruidoso Juvenile and qualified for the Rainbow Futurity, a Grade 1 race in which he finished sixth in his 2-year-old finale July 22.

Pyro drew post 4 for Saturday, and is to be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo.

A Dream to Remember will break to his immediate outside, under G.R. Carter Jr. She is one of the most accomplished members, having won last year’s Grade 2 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park. A Dream to Remember races for R.D. Hubbard, Johnny Cope, and Butch Southway, and is trained by Paul Jones.

Charvet set a track record at Ruidoso when he won his trial in 19.15 seconds. The score came in the last of eight trials, and he was a $25,000 supplement to the series.