Las Vegas, NV - New Mexico's Sunland Park will play host to the Grade 3 Sunland Derby this Sunday, March 23 - its signature event. A very generous purse of $800,000 and 50 qualifying points toward the Run for the Roses will be on the line for three year old Kentucky Derby hopefuls willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Sunland Park's main track.
A field of nine Derby hopefuls will line up in the Sunland Derby - race 11 on Sunland Park`s Sunday card. Post time is 5:40 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all nine entries for this intriguing and all-important Road to the Kentucky Derby Grade 3 stakes.
Midnight Hawk - constantly improving Bob Baffert trained colt most recently finished second behind California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita March 8 after a good third behind Candy Boy and Chitu in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on that same track February 8. Before that two wins in two career starts - by 1 3/4 lengths as 2-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes January 11 after a MSW score in his debut at Hollywood Park January 13. His early results have him looking like a contender for both the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies and have also made him the 5-2 morning line favorite - he has 36 qualifying points toward the Derby already. Mike Smith gets the call from post 7.
Commissioner - Todd Pletcher trained colt raced to a disappointing sixth in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth last time out at Gulfstream Park February 22 after looking very impressive in his other three career starts. He won an Allowance Optional Claiming over Top Billing January 3 after breaking maiden August 28 in his second career start and a second in his debut - a MSW at Monmouth Park August 8. Commissioner has two wins and a second in four career starts and will be looking to bounce back from a career worst effort when he takes to the track Sunday. John Velazquez has the mount from gate 3 as the 7-2 second choice.
Chitu - Bob Baffert trained colt was perfect in his first two career starts and finished a good second behind Candy Boy in his step into stakes company last time out - the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita February 8. His wins include an Allowance Optional Claiming score as 3-5 favorite December 27 after a MSW score at Hollywood Park December 7. He has been mighty impressive in his three race career and brings with him some lofty expectations. Martin Garcia will be in the reins from the outside post as Chitu is sent off at 4-1 odds.
Tanzanite Cat - won two of his first three career start including the minor Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park January 20 before debuting in graded stakes company February 17 and finishing fifth behind Tapiture in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The Cody Autry pupil will be looking to make some noise Sunday but enters in so-so form. Norberto Arroyo Jr. gets the call from gate 5 as the 6-1 fourth choice.
Bourbonize - most recently finished sixth in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park after posting wins in his first two career starts - an Allowance at Oaklawn Park January 10 and a MSW score in his debut at Churchill Downs in November. Bourbonize starts from the rail at 6-1 odds with Ramon Vazques aboard.
Global Strike - Todd Pletcher trained colt will race in stakes company for the first time Sunday but has improved every time out in his three race career. Last time out he finally broke maiden after a second in his second start and a third in his debut - all results were MSW races at Gulfstream Park. Javier Castellano will guide Global Strike from post 4 at 8-1 odds.
Garen - Peter Miller trained colt steps into stakes company for the first time Sunday having finally broke maiden last time out in his third career start - at Santa Anita February 17. His other career results were a fourth and an eighth respectively in a pair of MSW races at Santa Anita this past winter. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle of the 10-1 seventh choice from gate 2.
Rebranded - most recently finished second behind Proceed in the minor Mine That Bird Derby here February 22 after his only win in a six race career - the minor Riley Allison Futurity on this track December 22. Rebranded has one win, two seconds and a third place finish in six career starts for trainer Justin Evans and makes his graded stakes debut Sunday. Ry Eikleberry will be aboard from gate 8 at 12-1 odds.
Lawly`s Goal - has 11 career starts already in his career with just one win, four seconds and a third place finish. Last time out was a second in the minor Turf Paradise Derby February 22 after a fifth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Golden Gate January 26 and a second in the minor Riley Allison Futurity December 22 - his only start on this track. He makes his graded stakes debut Sunday but does have eight minor stakes starts under his belt with varying results. Irwin Rosendo will be aboard the longest shot n the field (20-1) from the 6-hole Sunday.
Race 11 on Sunland Park's Sunday card with a Post Time of 5:40 PM.
||N. Arroyo, Jr.