04/15/2011 2:14PM

Sunland: Black Hills returns to where he runs best for Sunland Handicap

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Black Hills is a five-time stakes winner who has won some of the most important races in New Mexico. But he will find himself in an unusual spot on Sunday when he tries to recapture his best form against six others in the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap.

The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up is one of two stakes on the program. The Grade 1, $100,000 West Texas Futurity is for Quarter Horses.

Black Hills is returning to New Mexico after traveling to both Gulfstream Park and Sam Houston Race Park for 1 1/8-mile stakes races. He was eighth in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 29, then ran seventh last month in the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup.

“I think he’ll run good,” said Bart Hone, who trains Black Hills for Class Racing Stable. “I believe the last two races didn’t set up that perfect for him. There wasn’t that much pace in either race.”

Hone said the 1 1/8-mile distance of both races was one reason the decision was made to ship for those races. The other was that it appeared Black Hills would get a good pace set-up, particularly in the Sunshine Millions.

“Looking at it on paper, there were four horses in there that had shown a lot of pace, and that day, they all decided to yank them back off the lead,” Hone said of the race at Gulfstream.

Black Hills last raced in New Mexico on Jan. 8, and won the $50,000 Winsham Lad at Sunland. He will break from post 2 under Miguel Hernandez, and the pair could get a decent set-up behind the rail-drawn Tizosexy and sprint to route starters Quiet Again and Imco Spirit.
Hone plans to send a division of horses to Prairie Meadows for the first time following the close of the Sunland meet on Tuesday, and said it’s possible Black Hills could be among the horses he sends to Iowa.

Schramsberg, the 120-pound highweight in the Sunland Park Handicap, won the Grade 3 Connally Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 29. Martin Bourdieu has the mount for trainer Chris Hartman.

◗ Rc Black Mamba returns to action Sunday in the West Texas Futurity after setting the fastest qualifying time for the 300-yard race during trials April 1. She covered the distance in 14.93 seconds, winning by three-quarters of a length under Larry Payne, who will be aboard for the finale for trainer Carl Draper.