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Breaking down the qualifiers for the Ruidoso Futurity and Ruidoso Derby in June

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RUIDOSO, NEW MEXICO — The race for the 10 spots in the June 8, 400-yard Ruidoso Derby finals figured to be hotly contested in Sunday’s 10 trials at Ruidoso Race Track and Casino.

And quarter horse racing fans saw some of the best 3-year-olds fight it out with several of last year’s 2-year-olds racing at a high level.

The 10 qualifiers

Mystic Paint (20.010), The Marksman V (20.012), Dashing Tres (20.025), Vegas Trick ((20.039), Trump This Record (20.0610), Lets Leave (20.068), Wired 440 (20.083), San Lencho (20.085), Aj Precious Jewel (20.089) and Mr Cartel Jess (20.114).

Lets Leave returns with solid showing

The Eric Valenzuela trained Lets Leave had a strong 2-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in the West Texas Futurity and a win in the Ruidoso Futurity.

On Sunday, he returned with a win in the sixth trial with a time of 20.068 seconds.

“Lets Leave gave a great effort and he’s never changed in that aspect,” Valenzuela said. “He ran strong and I was happy with his effort.”

Wired 440 also qualified for the Valenzuela barn. Last summer he was second in the Ruidoso Futurity and fourth in the Rainbow Futurity.

Mystic Paint runs big

Mystic Paint ran arguably his best race ever in running the fastest qualifying time in 20.010 seconds. It was his third win in 11 starts.

“He left the gate good and ran well. I was a little bit surprised by the time,” trainer Jason Olmstead said. “He didn’t run well in his last start, I wasn’t sure what expect.”

Dashing Tres looks strong

Dashing Tres, who ran fifth in last year’s All American Futurity, earned the third fastest qualifying time with a mark of 20.025 seconds.

Aj Precious Jewel beats tough field

The filly Aj Precious Jewel, who was seventh in last year’s All American Futurity, made her return to Ruidoso a successful one. She earned the ninth fastest qualifying time of 20.089 and defeated last year’s All American Futurity winner Cowboy Gun Z and Los Alamitos Oaks winner, Asscher.

“Our filly has come back stronger and bigger,” winning owner Javier Rodriguez said. “We feel she could have a good summer as a 3-year-old.”

Ruidoso Futurity trials

Hezgothelook Z, a 2-year-old gelding, ran away to a 5 1/2 length win during trials for the $1 million Ruidoso Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Friday while scoring the fastest time of the day, 17.494 seconds for 350 yards.

“I didn’t think the horse broke particularly well,” jockey Brian Candanosa said. “He was sort of looking around and then finally got rolling midway through the race. It was an impressive time.”

Hezgotthelook Z is trained by Toby Keeton.

Keeton qualified three of the five horses on Friday that advanced to the Ruidoso Futurity, scheduled for Sunday, June 9. His winners also included TJR Flyingwithstyle in the fourth race and Poochies Candy in the 10th race.

The two other qualifiers are Electrifying Cowboy in the first race and Painted Eclispe in the sixth race. Painted Eclipse won this year’s West Texas Futurity at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino in April.

In Saturday’s second day of qualifying for the Ruidoso Futurity, Hovland and jockey Luis Martinez defied a strong 20 mile an hour headwind to win the ninth trial race by 3 1/2 lengths in the fastest time of the day, 17.770.

 “This horse has overcome quite a bit of adversity,” Rodriguez said. “We worked with the gelding to overcome some bleeding issues and the horse really showed improvement today with an outstanding time.”

Horses that qualified for the Ruidoso Futurity final from Saturday’s qualifying raves all came from the final six races on the card including Brink Man V in the 11th, Fdd Treasured Dreams in the twelfth, Aguila Rapids in the 15th and El Vencedor V in the 16th race.

Keeton qualified four horses total for the Ruidoso Futurity, trainer Xavier Rodriguez qualified three and trainer Heath Taylor qualified two.

More: Horse racing news A Q&A with Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino GM Rick Baugh

Felix F. Chavez can be reached at fchavez@elpasotimes.com; @Fchavezeptimes on X

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