06/23/2012 1:34PM

SunRay: Fog Alert needs pace to close in San Juan County Commissioners Handicap


Fog Alert ran the biggest race of his career in a 1 1/8-mile handicap in April, and on Tuesday he will be stretching back out to that distance when he starts as one of the top-weighted horses in the $90,000 San Juan County Commissioners Handicap at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M.

The San Juan is for 3-year-olds and up, and it drew a field of 10. Forest Mouse is the 124-pound highweight, while Fog Alert will tote 122 along with multiple stakes winners Imco Spirit and Quiet Again.

Fog Alert won the Sunland Park Handicap from more than 10 lengths off the pace, and for his two-length win in the 1 1/8-mile race he earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 93. He has made one subsequent start, finishing seventh in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, a race in which winner Nates Mineshaft dictated a soft pace of 25 seconds for the opening quarter and 49.20 for the opening half-mile in a scenario that compromised Fog Alert.

“For a closer, that 25 [opening quarter] doesn’t help you,” said David Wolochuk, who co-owns and trains Fog Alert.

Wolochuk is hopeful the fractions will be quicker for the San Juan.

“It’s some of the same horses that were in the Sunland Handicap,” he said.

Wolochuk, who races Fog Alert with Art and Robin Olivier, claimed the horse for $16,000 at Santa Anita in October 2011. The year before, the horse had raced in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race won by Endorsement.

“When he ran in the derby he was fourth and closing,” said Wolochuk.

Fog Alert took a first-level allowance for his new connections in December 2011 at Sunland, then accounted for an optional $25,000 claimer at the track in February. Wolochuk then entered Fog Alert in a $25,000 claiming race for the same card as the Sunland Park Handicap, but when it did not fill the decision was made to run in the big race April 15.

“We knew we were reaching,” said Wolochuk. “[But] when I claimed the horse I knew one of the best races he’d ever run was at Sunland. And I knew he’d get the distance. It worked out.”

Fog Alert upset at 18-1, and Ken Tohill, who was aboard for the win, has the mount again Tuesday.

◗ The Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity for Quarter Horses at Ruidoso will be run a day later than scheduled, on Sunday, July 22, after the New Mexico Racing Commission approved the move at a meeting Thursday. The date for trials remains July 3.