John Pinkerton’s Black Ops led at every call en route to a 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday‘s 6 1/2-furlong, $55,000 Budweiser Special Stakes at Albuquerque Downs.
Ridden by Frank Reyes for trainer Justin Evans, Black Ops covered the distance in 1 minute, 15.12 seconds, less than one second off of the track record of 1:14.15 set by Royal Meridian on Sept. 28, 2014. The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Hard Spun earned $33,000 from his sixth win in 25 starts.
“My instructions were to put him on the lead,” said Reyes. “We had to go a little faster than I wanted to early, but when I asked him late he gave me everything we needed.”
Black Ops was making his first start against Thoroughbreds since April 14. However, after his third-place finish in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance-optional claiming race at Sunland Park on that date, the gelding competed against Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds in four 870-yard races, winning two of them.
“I thought he’d be a good 870 horse, and he has been,” said Evans. “A few years ago, I had a Thoroughbred named Alsono who is probably the best horse I’ve ever trained, and he was a good 870 horse.
“I thought this horse might be another Alsono,” he added. “This horse was unlucky in his 870 races here because he never got good trips. But he’s a good horse to train. He’s really smart, and he does everything right. He’s bred to run longer, so we have a lot of options with him as far as his future races go.”
Flashaway finished second and was followed by Bokeelia Island, Deputy’s Echo,Raagheb, Dynamic Ruler, Lode The Gold, Best It, and Blame Smarty.
NOTES FROM THE DOWNS: The main portion of The Downs’ 2019 season ends with an 10-race program on Sunday, starting at 1:30 p.m. (MDT). The card features six stakes, five for Quarter Horses and one for Thoroughbreds, topped by the 440-yard, $300,000 Albuquerque Fall Quarter Horse Championship (G1). The meet’s traditional final race, the 1 13/16-mile, $25,000 Con Jackson Claiming Stakes, is New Mexico’s longest horse race. After Sunday, The Downs will be dark for live racing until Saturday, October 26, when the track for the first time hosts the American Quarter Horse Association Bank of America Challenge Championships.