11/25/2011 2:51PM

Zia Park: Southwest Juvenile Championship packed with last-out winners


Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., has moved into the final stretch of its mixed meet and will run five significant stakes before the close of the season Dec. 4. The first of those races is on Sunday, with 11 invited Quarter Horses making up the field for the Grade 1, $200,000 Southwest Juvenile Championship.

The final week of the meet will also showcase a pair of six-figure stakes for Thoroughbreds, the $150,000 Zia Park Derby on Dec. 3 and the $200,000 Distance Championship on Dec. 4. There is also a Distance Championship for Quarter Horses, with the Dec. 4 race worth $150,000.

The Southwest Juvenile is a 440-yard invitational that features seven horses who won their last starts, including All American Futurity alums Lethal Volt, who was fifth in the Labor Day classic at Ruidoso Downs, and Denver Pass, who finished seventh. Send Me a Candy Tree has won his last two starts including a consolation for the Texas Classic Futurity.

But it might be a horse who has yet to win a race that is the most interesting runner in the Southwest Juvenile. Vgc Moon Walk is still a maiden after six starts, but in his most recent out he ran a bold second to Feature Mr Bojangles in the Grade 2, $265,000 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia on Oct. 9. The company line is a strong one, as Feature Mr Bojangles, who in July took the Grade 1, $700,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, was winning his sixth straight race in the Hobbs.

As for Vgc Moon Walk, experience at Zia would also seem to be in his favor Sunday. He was third by a neck in his trial for the Hobbs, then was beaten a half-length in the 400-yard finale. He has never been worse than fourth in his career, which includes a stakes placing at Sunland Park in April. Juan Gonzalez trains the horse for Valle Guadiana Corporation and has given the mount to Jaime Leos.

Back in the Pack is another starter of note. He became Grade 1-placed back in June, when he finished second by a neck in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. He went on to win trial races for the Rainbow Futurity and the All American Futurity, but did not qualify for the finales and instead closed out his Ruidoso meet with a win in the $71,000 All American Juvenile. Cody Wainscott has the mount for trainer Brad Bolen.