Bob Baffert, trainer of Sunland Derby contender Castaway, looks to continue his hot hand in graded stakes races.
Over the last few years, the Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico, has become a player in the world of prep races for the Kentucky Derby. The $800,000 purse (and almost $500,000 winner's share) elevates the race to the almost "Win and You're In" status of the Wood, Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Louisiana Derby. And while the Sunland Derby pales in comparison to those races in historical terms, history doesn't get a horse into the starting gate at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. To do that, a horse needs graded earnings, of which the Sunland Derby has a bunch. On Sunday, the Sunland Derby will feature a field of eight three-year-old colts going a mile and an eighth. (Post time: 5:45 Mountain; TV: TVG)
The 2012 version of the Sunland Derby will be just the tenth in its existence. In 2009, eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird finished fourth in the Sunland Derby. Kelly Leak won the race. Additionally, Thor's Echo, winner of the 2006 Breeders' Cup Sprint, won the Sunland Derby in 2005.
The field for this year's Sunland Derby is led by G3-Southwest Stakes winner and Bob Baffert trainee Castaway. The local favorite is Borderland Derby winner Isn't He Clever, a son of Smarty Jones that is two-for-two over the Sunland Park course. Daddy Nose Best, winner of the G3-El Camino Real at Golden Gate, ships into New Mexico for Steve Asmussen in search of his first win over a conventional dirt surface.
Below are the entries and post positions for Sunday's Sunland Derby. Morning line odds will be updated when released.
|1||Castaway||R. Bejarano||B. Baffert||2/1|
|2||Ender Knievel||J. Velazquez||T. Pletcher||6/1|
|3||Stirred Up||M. Garcia||B. Baffert||8/1|
|4||Isn't He Clever||L. Contreras||H. Dominguez||4/1|
|5||No Spin||C. Hill||T. Ice||8/1|
|6||Daddy Nose Best||J. Leparoux||S. Asmussen||3/1|
|7||Tequila Factor||M. Hernandez||C. Wilson||15/1|
|8||Justanoldsong||R. Eikleberry||D. Wolochuk||20/1|