09/06/2013 3:33PM

Zia Park: Alsvid ready to strike in Premiere Cup

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Shelly McShane/Coady Photography
Alsvid, winner of the 2012 Prairie Mile (above), comes into the Premiere Cup off a 109 Beyer Speed Figure win.

Alsvid displayed significant talent last year at 3, when he defeated older horses in a pair of rich sprint stakes. But he took his game to a whole new level in his most recent start, when he put up a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 for a 16-length win in an optional claimer.

On Sunday at Zia Park, his connections are looking forward to seeing how Alsvid will run back when he starts in the $100,000 Premiere Cup Handicap. He is the 122-pound highweight in the six-furlong race, which puts in motion a $3.9 million stakes schedule at the Hobbs, N.M., track. Zia was scheduled to open its mixed meet on Saturday.

Alsvid tackled older horses in last year’s $200,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup and the track’s $100,000 David M. Vance Sprint. He was set to defend his title in the Vance last month, but the race did not fill and Alsvid’s owner, Black Hawk Stable, and trainer, Chris Hartman, targeted the Premier.

Alsvid will start as a strong favorite in a field that includes City Sage, an Oaklawn stakes winner who figures to be showing the way from his rail post; Warren’s Knockout, who put up a Beyer Figure of 100 for an optional-claiming win at Lone Star Park in July; and She Digs Me, a Grade 3 winner at 2 and a half-brother to Mylute, the third-place finisher in this year’s Preakness.

But despite the depth of the field, the horse to beat is Alsvid. He reached his new Beyer top on July 18 at Prairie Meadows, when he won a $35,000 optional claimer at six furlongs in 1:09.71. He tracked the pace in third, then opened up for the double-digit win under regular rider Ken Tohill.

“It was a monster race,” Hartman said. “We want to see this horse run a duplicate of that and, obviously, we’ll start dreaming a little larger than what we’ve been dreaming. He needs to duplicate it. It would be nice to see him do it. It’s another level.”

Alsvid has been flattered since that win, with the runner-up, Credit Report, having returned in his next start on Aug. 9 to win a two-furlong stakes at Prairie Meadows.

City Sage was second in a $30,000 optional claimer at Prairie Meadows in his most recent start on Aug. 8, and since the race the winner and third- and fourth-place finishers have returned to win their next start. Their winning Beyers ranged from 72 to 93.

Terry Thompson has the mount on City Sage, who in 2012 won the Hot Springs at Oaklawn. Jon Arnett trains for William J. Sims.