OTB Race Previews
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Over $1.5 million in purses will be offered on Sunland Derby (GR III) day - Sunday, March 25, 2018. The 15th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (GR III) at one and one-eighth miles will be the richest and most important race of the meet for three-year-old Thoroughbreds seeking a berth in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
The winner of the Sunland Derby (GR III) receives 50 critical qualifying points for entry into the Kentucky Derby. The winner receives 50 points to the Kentucky Derby. Second place earns 20 points. Third place gets 10 points and fourth place earns 5 points.
An array of the nation's top trainers are planning on sending horses to the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 25 at Sunland Park Racetrack Casino and Hotel. Elite conditioners like Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas and Simon Callaghan are targeting Sunland Park's biggest race.
Race 11 on Sunland Park's Sunday card with a Post Time of 7:15 PM
|1||All Out Blitz||4-1||Martin Garcia||Simon Callaghan|
|2||Dark Vader||15-1||Stewart Elliott||Peter Eurton|
|3||New York Central||9-2||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steven Asmussen|
|4||Hollywood Star||6-1||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|
|5||Peace||12-1||Drayden Van Dyke||Richard Mandella|
|6||Shane Zain||15-1||Terry Thompson||Doug O'Neill|
|7||Prince Lucky||6-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|8||Seven Trumpets||6-1||Luis Contreras||Dale Romans|
|9||Choo Choo||8-1||Mario Gutierrez||Jerry Hollendorfer|
|10||Dream Baby Dream||10-1||Alfredo Juarez, Jr.||Steven Asmussen|
|11||Runaway Ghost||8-1||Tracy Hebert||Todd Fincher|
|12||Fortified Effort||20-1||Ry Eikleberry||Kevin Eikleberry|
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen could be sending two quality three-year-olds in New York Central and Dream Baby Dream. New York Central has already carved out two wins from four starts. The Tapit colt recently won an allowance at Oaklawn Park going one and one-eighth miles, the same distance as the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). He has a strong cruising speed and broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last fall. The winner of $104,600 is owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing. The grey roan colt has been working forwardly since his last Oaklawn win on Feb. 19.
Dream Baby Dream is another imposing Asmussen runner with recent Oaklawn Park form. The Into Mischief colt is very fit coming off three straight third place finishes to stablemates New York Central and Title Ready and the Risen Star Stakes winner Bravazo. The battle tested sophomore is also a maiden winner from Churchill Downs and has a strong stretch kick.
Asmussen won the 2017 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) with Hence.
Prince Lucky represents the Todd Pletcher stable. The Pennsylvania bred son of Corinthian is a restricted bred stakes winner at Parx and is a 3-time winner from 5 starts. The winner of nearly $135,000 has a good looking form line and split the field in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 13.
D. Wayne Lukas has a solid prospect with Kentucky Club. The Oxbow colt owned by Calumet Farm packs a solid late kick. He finished 6th in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes.
Bob Baffert looks to send Restoring Hope for Sunland Park's biggest race. The son of Giant's Causeway drilling Santa Anita maidens by over 3 lengths on Feb. 2. The victory came at one mile and one sixteenth, and Restoring Hope was full of run in the final furlong. He should be a big threat on March 25. His 5 workouts following that maiden win have been exceptional. Restoring Hope is owned by Gary and Mary West. Ax Man is another potential starter from the Baffert stable. Baffert has won the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) three times, most recently with Chitu in 2014.
Simon Callaghan's All Out Blitz will receive ample betting attention. He was a runner-up to McKinzie in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and came in third in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. In his maiden win at Los Alamitos last December, the Concord Point gelding beat Restoring Hope by a nose. All Out Blitz outran Southwest Stakes winner My Boy Jack in the Sham Stakes. Trainer Callaghan saddled 2015 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Firing line who would go on to finish second to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby.
Dark Vader, third place finisher in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis stakes, looms large for trainer Peter Eurton.
Local hopes rest with Todd Fincher's Runway Ghost. The Ghostzapper colt was a runway winner of the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby and finished second to Reride in the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby.
In addition to the Sunland Derby (GR III), the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, $100,000 Harry W. Henson Handicap, $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap, $100,000 La Coneja Stakes, $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Oaks and $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby will help propel Sunland Park's greatest day on March 25.Local sensation Blamed is an early favorite for the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks at one and one-sixteenth miles. The three-year-old daughter of Blame rolled through confident victories in the $65,000 El Paso Times Stakes and the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes. Joel Marr trains the sharp filly for long-time Sunland Park horse owner Cleber Massey. Charge Back, Bella Be Ready, Charge Back, Heavenhasmynikki, Kram, Poetic and Thirteen Squared are also possible Oaks runners.
Sunland Park's most important prep race for the Kentucky Derby is the Sunland Derby, contested on the dirt main track at a distance of 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs) for 3-year-olds. The race gives the top four finishers points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. The race was first run in 2003 and achieved Grade 3 status for the 2011 edition, shortly after Mine That Bird ran fourth in the 2009 race in preparation for his 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby.
Eventual Breeders' Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse champion Thor's Echo won the 2005 Sunland Derby. Bob Baffert has won the race three times, most recently in 2014 with Chitu, Jockeys Victor Espinoza and Martin Garcia each have a pair of Sunland Derby victories. In 2016 the race was canceled with plans to return in 2017.
The 2015 Sunland Derby (GR III) winner, Firing Line, ran second to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Sunland Derby (GR III) winners Chitu (2014), Governor Charlie (2013), Daddy Nose Best (2012) and Twice the Appeal (2011) all ran in the Kentucky Derby. In 2009, Mine That Bird parlayed a fourth-place finish in the Sunland Derby to a victory in the Kentucky Derby at 50-1 odds.