12/01/2011 3:08PM

Zia Park: Thirtyfirststreet back on dirt in Zia Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Thirtyfirststreet wins the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes on dirt last December at Santa Anita.

Dirt has been a foreign surface to Thirtyfirststreet for some time now as he has been racing on either turf or synthetic tracks since March. But that will change Saturday in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby.

Thirtyfirststreet will take on five others in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M. The stakes is part of a package of four six-figure races that close out Zia’s mixed meet, with the three other stakes to be run on the final card of the season Sunday.

Thirtyfirststreet and Awesome Bet should vie for favoritism in the Zia Derby. Both horses are stakes winners, and both have been running against graded rivals in recent times. Thirtyfirststreet has been doing so on turf, among his efforts a third-place finish in the Grade 2 La Jolla at Del Mar. But he should be effective on the move back to the main track Saturday.

“He won on dirt at Santa Anita,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains Thirtyfirststreet for the partnership of Mark Gorman, Neil Haymes, and Sterling Stable.

The win came in December, in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. One start later, Thirtyfirststreet was fourth in the track’s Grade 2 Robert Lewis. He then made his way to turf and in May registered the biggest win of his career in the $200,000 Lone Star Derby.

O’Neill has kept Thirtyfirststreet in races restricted to 3-year-olds all year, and said the opportunity to do so in the Zia Derby was one of the reasons he shipped the horse in from Southern California. Thirtyfirststreet has even had a chance to work at Zia, and drilled a half-mile in 47.80 seconds on Nov. 26. He comes into Saturday’s race off a 10th-place finish in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, a race in which he was beaten just four lengths by Ultimate Eagle, who won again one start later in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.

Alejandro Medellin has the mount on Thirtyfirststreet.

Awesome Bet also exits a strong race. He was ninth in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby won by Redeemed, who returned in his next start to take the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct. In addition, Infrattini, who was fifth in the Oklahoma Derby, came back to win a Churchill Downs allowance, and Populist Politics, who was seventh, returned to take the $60,000 Mr. Sulu at Fair Grounds.

Awesome Bet, a stakes winner at Delaware and the runner-up in the Grade 2 Super Derby, will break from post 5. Luis Quinonez has the mount for Mike McCarty and trainer Steve Asmussen.