12/02/2011 5:02PM

Zia: Dominguez hopes to continue Midas touch in Distance Championship

Coady Photography/Jeff Coady
Imco Spirit is among three contenders leading trainer Henry Dominguez will saddle in Sunday's $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship.

Trainer Henry Dominguez has never had a better season at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., with his stable recently surpassing $1 million in earnings at the meet. Sunday, he could significantly add to that amount when he sends out Imco Spirit, Vamoose, and Tiz True in the track’s richest Thoroughbred race, the $200,000 Zia Park Distance Championship.

The Distance Championship is a 1 1/8-mile handicap that closes out the mixed meet at Zia. It drew a field of nine older horses, including Skip a Smile, a multiple stakes who will start as the 122-pound highweight for trainer Steve Asmussen; Red Lead, who has been second in four stakes this year, including a runner-up finish to Skip a Smile in the $100,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park; and Matto Mondo and Spurrier, who have been racing in Southern California.

[MORE: Full coverage of the Distance Championship card from Zia Park]

The race will share a program with the $120,000 Eddy County, in which Dominguez will start leading contender Vote Often, and the $150,000 Distance Championship for Quarter Horses, which is led by champion Noconi.

Dominguez, who is a multiple title winner at Zia, has again locked up the local training championship with 39 wins through Wednesday. His starters have earned $1,011,192 through Wednesday to top his previous-best $882,159 at Zia in 2010.

“We’ve been awfully pleased,” Dominguez said of the meet. “Everything fell into place. We’ve got a great group of clients. We’ve got a great staff. The horses were ready to go, the races came up, luck was a part of it. All of those things fell into place.”

Imco Spirit will be defending his title in the Distance Championship. He won the race in a track-record time of 1:49.20 last year, one start after finishing second in the local prep, the $55,000 Veteran. Imco Spirit has followed the same pattern into this year’s Distance Championship, having again played runner-up in the Veteran, a 1 1/16-mile race held Nov. 5.

“We expect him to run well,” Dominguez said. “The distance should suit him.”

The Distance Championship will be Imco Spirit’s third start off a layoff. In his comeback race in September, he won the $100,000 Premiere Cup Handicap at Zia. He set a track record for six furlongs in the process, covering the distance in 1:07. Miguel Perez was aboard for the win and again has the mount on Imco Spirit, who will break from post 2 for the partnership of Judy and Kirk Robison and Solitaire Stable.

Vamoose won the Veteran by a head over Imco Spirit last month, and earlier this year took the $50,000 Ruidoso Thoroughbred Championship. He will be ridden by Enrique Gomez.

Dominguez’s other starter, Tiz True, will be seeking his fourth straight win Sunday. He has risen from $15,000 claimer to two-time allowance winner this meet at Zia. Brayan Velazquez has the mount on Tiz True.

◗ The Eddy County drew an overflow field of 12 horses, with 10 to start in the one-mile race for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico. Vote Often should be one of the favorites after winning an allowance at a mile at Zia on Nov. 15. He defeated a handful of horses he will again face in the Eddy County. Dominguez has given the mount to the meet’s leading rider, Alejandro Medellin.

The chief threat appears to be That’s Who, who will be making his two-turn debut after winning an allowance and the $151,000 New Mexico Cup Juvenile in his last two starts. Carlos Madeira has the mount for trainer Joel Marr.

◗ Noconi will be defending his title in the Distance Championship, a 440-yard race that is classified as a Grade 1.

◗ Alsvid, a stakes winner at Remington, heads an allowance sprint for 2-year-olds that goes as the ninth race Sunday.


Zia Park Distance Championship, Post Time: 4:35 MT Sunday

Purse: $200,000; 1 1/8 miles





ML Odds


Red Lead

C. Hartman

R. Eikleberry



Imco Spirit

H. Dominguez

M. Perez



Skip A Smile

S. Asmussen

L. Quinonez



Matto Mondo

A. Medellin

D. O'Neil



McKenna's Justice

J. Evans

M. Hernandez




R. Diodoro

A. Jaurez Jr.



Infinite Resource

F. Dantley

C. Madeira



Tiz True

H. Dominguez

R. Velazquez




H. Dominguez

E. Gomez