Over $1.5 million in purses will be offered at Sunland Park on Sunday, March 24, 2019. The 16th 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 2019 Kentucky Derby.
The winner of the Sunland Derby (GR III) receives 50 critical qualifying points for entry into the Kentucky Derby. A record crowd of 19,081 fans came to witness the 2015 edition of the Sunland Derby (GR III).
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 Hence (2017), 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.
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 New Mexico State University Stakes, $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Oaks and $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby will help propel Sunland Park's biggest live racing day on March 24.
2019 Sunland Derby Odds & Entries
Race 11 on Sunland Park's Sunday card with a Post Time of 7:30 PM
|1||Mucho Gusto||8-5||Joseph Talamo
|3||Hustle Up||5-1||Shane Laviolette
|4||Wicked Indeed||6-1||Luis Contreras
|5||Cutting Humor||8-1||John Velazquez
|6||Walker Stalker||15-1||Alejandro Medellin
|Jose Gonzalez, Jr.|
|7||Pasamonte Man||20-1||Ken Tohill
|8||Collusionist||25-1||Alfredo Juarez, Jr.
|O. Martinez, Jr.|
|9||Diamond Blitz||15-1||Kent Desormeaux
|10||Eye Cloud||30-1||Isaias Enriquez
MUCHO GUSTO 8-5
Owner: Michael Peterson
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Lifetime Record: 4-3-1-0, $234,000
A romping winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park last time out, the Kentucky-bred son of Mucho Macho Man appears to be one of several top Kentucky Derby contenders in the Baffert barn. He broke his maiden last summer at Los Alamitos before winning the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes last November at Del Mar. Baffert will be seeking his fourth career victory in the meet's most prestigious race, his most recent coming in 2014 with Chitu.
Mucho Gusto will look to keep his 2019 record intact Sunday when he breaks from the inside post against nine rivals in the 1 1/8 mile test, set to go as the 11th race of a massive card at the Sunland Park racetrack, featuring seven stakes races worth $1.5 million in purse money, including the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks featuring Bellafina, the leading 3-year-old filly in America.
Mucho Gusto's most recent victory, which occurred over a sloppy track that was all too common at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., was also his first win in which he came from off the pace.
His most recent victory finds Mucho Gusto with 14 Derby points going into this weekend. A win would place him among the top hopefuls for the Run for the Roses.
The only time Mucho Gusto tasted defeat in his 4-race career came in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity last December, finishing second behind Baffert stablemate Improbable. Baffert will be seeking his fifth career victory in Sunland Park's most prestigious race, his most recent coming in 2014 with Chitu. Baffert recorded a victory in the 2016 Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes, which was a late replacement for the Sunland Derby which had to be cancelled.
Mucho Gusto will be piloted by his regular rider Joe Talamo and has been installed as the 8-to-5 morning line favorite.
Owner: Peter Redekop, B.C. Ltd
Trainer:: Blaine D. Wright
Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-0, $94,545
He won't have to look hard to find what appears to be his main rival in the Sunland Derby. Anothertwistafate, installed as the 3-to-1 second choice, is drawn right next door in post position 2.
Trained by Blaine Wright for Peter Redekop B.C. Ltd and slated to be ridden by Juan Hernandez, Anothertwistafate has only race on traditional dirt, resulting in a ninth-place finish in his career debut last November at Santa Anita.
After a poor debut effort last fall at Santa Anita Park, the Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy was shipped to northern California, where he rattled off three straight wins, most recently in the El Camino Real Derby on the Tapeta synthetic dirt surface at Golden Gate Fields. He is unbeaten in all three of his two-turn races. The sire produced last year's Triple Crown winner Justify.
HUSTLE UP 5-1
Owner: Dale F. Taylor Racing, LLC, Bobby J. McQueen, and Suzanne Kirby
Trainer: Todd Fincher
Lifetime Record: 10-8-0-0, $363,143
Fincher is looking to become the second trainer to win back-to-back runnings of the Grade III Sunland Derby, having saddled last year's champion Runaway Ghost. Fincher will saddle Hustle Up, third choice on the morning line at odds of 5-to-1.
The five-time stakes winner was voted 2-year-old colt/gelding champion by the New Mexico Horse Breeders' Association after a campaign which included stakes victories at Sunland Park, Ruidoso Downs and Zia Park.
A perfect 2-for-2 this year, with back-to-back victories in the Red Hedeman Mile as well as the Mine That Bird Derby, in which he faced open company for the first time in his career, Hustle Up may well be the likely favorite among locals as he boasts an unblemished record from four starts over the course. He will break from post 3 with jockey Shane Laviolette aboard.
WALKER STALKER 15-1
Owner: Miguel Gallegos
Trainer: Jose Gonzalez, Jr.
Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-1, $25,270.
The New Mexico-bred son of Stroll finished third in the Mine That Bird Derby last time out. Prior to that, he broke his maiden over this course in his second lifetime start while also racing around two turns for the first time. Trainer Jose R. Gonzalez Jr. is coming off one of his finest recent years as a trainer, saddling nearly 30 winners with purse monies approaching $500,000.
CUTTING HUMOR 8-1
Owner: Jack and Laurie Wolf
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Lifetime Record: 1-2-1-1, $56,167.
Made a promising middle move in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn but then faded to seventh in the stretch. Looks like this will be his last chance to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher, and if he can run back to his runner-up finish behind Bourbon War in his previous start, he'll have a big say in the outcome. Having John Velazquez in the saddle is a big plus.
Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC, Wicked Indeed has quite an impressive pedigree. The Kentucky-bred son of Tapit is a half-brother to Harlan's Holiday, who won the 2002 Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes before finishing seventh as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. Though he owns only one win from four lifetime starts, he is the fourth choice in the morning line at odds of 6-to-1 with jockey Luis Contreras back aboard from post 4.
About Sunland Park Racetrack
Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino is a racino located in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a suburb of El Paso. The track features live Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing from December to April. The meet is highlighted by the Sunland Derby with a purse of $800,000. The race was granted a Grade III status for the 2010 running and now is an important prep race for the Kentucky Derby
Hustle Up wins final Sunland Derby Prep $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby
New Mexico-bred sensation Hustle Up scored a wire to wire win in the 19th running of the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby on Sunday at Sunland Park Racetrack.
Under a cool ride from Shane Laviolette, Hustle Up was able to control the pace and made every pole a winning one. The three-year-old son of Abstraction used his tactical speed to hold clear over a fast closing Wicked Indeed and win the last local prep for the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) by one length.
The front running expert timed the one mile and one-sixteenth distance in a good 1:42.31. The 2018 Copper Top Futurity and 2019 Red Hedeman Mile winner served notice with a polished performance and remains unbeaten over Sunland Park soil in four outings. His amazing career record stands at 8 wins from 10 starts.
The Todd Fincher trained dynamo could have a substantial impact in the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 24. Hustle Up earned $60,000 for owner Dale Taylor, Bobby McQueen and Suzanne Kirby. The perfect Sunland runner paid $7.00 to win as the second favorite at 5-2 odds.
4-5 favorite Wicked Indeed was 5-wide on the far turn and tried his best under leading rider Luis Contreras. The gray roan Tapit colt closed too late and had to settle for second place. Steve Asmussen trains for the Winchell Thoroughbreds. The runner-up earned $20,000.
Walker Stalker finished 4 lengths behind the winner in third place. The former maiden winner from the barn of Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr. mounted a serious charge coming off the far turn.