Ol Winedrinker Who takes upset win

Coady Photography

Coady Photography

FARMINGTON, N.M. — For the better part of 2014, Sam and Sammy Stevens’ Ol Winedrinker Who has been reserved to playing the role of minor player to some of the top handicap horses in the state of New Mexico.

On closing day Sunday at SunRay Park and Casino, Ol Winedrinker Who and jockey Carlos Madeira got a measure of revenge, posting a narrow upset win in a thrilling edition of the $75,000 San Juan County Commissioners Handicap.

Chasing a moderate early pace set by Isn’t He Clever and jockey Enrique Gomez, the Texas-bred son of Sligo Bay found his best stride at the top of the lane, collared that one nearing the wire and finished a head in front of the Henry Dominguez trainee for his eighth win from 24 lifetime starts.

Ol Winedrinker Who came into the San Juan County Commissioners Handicap in the midst of a three-race losing streak, the last pair of races finishing well behind rivals Jaycito and Isn’t He Clever. His last win coming in the Zia Park Distance Challenge at Zia Park in Hobbs last fall. Trainer Joel Marr had his charge in superior condition for SunRay Park’s biggest Thoroughbred event.

Breaking from the outside post in the 6-horse field, Madeira settled in nicely behind the speed, knowing he had something left in reserve.

“I saw they were going pretty quick up front,” Madeira said. “When he got running on the turn, I thought we could outrun (Isn’t He Clever). He’s a good horse and he finished strong.”

Sent off as the fourth choice on the board at odds of 9.50-to-1, Ol Winedrinker Who returned $21 to his backers on each $2 ticket. Ol Winedrinker Who ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 51.8 seconds.

Isn’t He Clever, who won this race a year ago by nearly 17 lengths, appeared to have things in hand on the far turn after putting away a stubborn King Coral. The son of Smarty Jones opened up a 3-length lead at the head of the lane, but got tagged in the shadow of the wire, finishing nearly 9 lengths clear of the rest of the field.

King Coral saved third place, followed by post-time favorite Forest Mouse, Happy Toes and Jaycito.

Forest Mouse, bet down to the 11-to-10 favorite as the gates opened, came into the race with an unblemished record in four starts at SunRay Park and Casino. Ridden by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., the son of Teton Forest raced off the pace early and never threatened, beaten some 12 lengths by the winner.

Ol Winedrinker Who’s victory was worth $45,000 to the connections, increasing his career bankroll to just over $401,000.