Leading Cartel, a graded stakes winning son of Big Daddy Cartel racing for Reliance Ranches LLC, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 350-yard, $90,636 Mountain Top Quarter Horse Derby (R) at Ruidoso Downs.

Leading Cartel has won five of six races and has earned $188,907, and his three wins in as many outs at Ruidoso Downs include a neck victory in last year’s 350-yard, $334,000 Mountain Top Quarter Horse Futurity (RG2). A $45,000 yearling purchase at the 2019 New Mexico-Bred Sale at Ruidoso Downs, the gelding drew post 8 and will be ridden by Esgar Ramirez for trainer Mike Robbins.

Rex Wells’ Bigg Dee, the fastest qualifier, made his season debut with a half-length victory in the second of six Mountain Top Derby trials on June 5. A $30,000 buy at the 2019 New Mexico-Bred Sale, the gelded son of Big Daddy Cartel won last year’s 400-yard, $50,000 Zia Juvenile Stakes (R) at Ruidoso Downs, and he ended his juvenile campaign with a second-place finish, a half of a length behind winner Icy Morning Breeze, in the 350-yard, $360,000 New Mexico Cup Futurity (RG2) at Zia Park.

Bigg Dee drew post 9 and will be ridden by Mario Delgado for trainer James J. Gonzales II.

Icy Morning Breeze drew post 5 and will be ridden by Hector Aldrete. A homebred daughter of Winners Version trained by Jackie Riddle for the Estate of William and Mary Robertson, the graded stakes winning filly made her sophomore season debut with a 2 1/2-length win in her Mountain Top Derby trial and posted the fifth-fastest qualifying time.

The complete lineup for the inaugural Mountain Top Derby, in post position order including jockey assignments and morning-line odds:
Chicky Chicky Kai (Juan Pulido), 9-2
Midnight Train Mo (Benito Baca), 10-1
Mr Money Bags (Alfredo Sigala), 10-1
Fanncee (Alan Hernandez), 6-1
Icy Morning Breeze (Hector Aldrete), 3-1
Fly On Down (Francisco Calderon), 15-1
Jessies Allstar (James Flores), 15-1
Leading Cartel (Esgar Ramirez), 2-1
Bigg Dee (Mario Delgado), 5-2
Winners Take All (Sergio Becerra Jr.), 8-1