Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and Sunland Park Oaks fields show plenty of strength

Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and Sunland Park Oaks fields show plenty of strength
Friday, March 16, 2012 - 3:35pm

The $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 25 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino will draw national media exposure with an elite field of three-year-olds competing for a Kentucky Derby berth.

Sunland Park’s biggest day showcases an all Thoroughbred 13-race card with over $1.6 million in purses including the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks. With $400,000 in graded earnings, this year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner earns a virtual berth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. The Sunland Derby (Gr. III) day card will receive national television coverage with a one hour live broadcast on TVG from 5 to 6 p.m. mountain time. In addition to TVG, the show will air on selected FSN regional networks. Prime Ticket (Southern California) and Altitude (Colorado) are broadcasting the race live. MSG Plus (New York City) and Sun Sports (Florida) will air the broadcast on tape delay later on Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. mountain time, respectively.

A Sunland Derby (Gr. III) preview happens Saturday, March 24 on “Down the Stretch” hosted by Dave Johnson and Bill Finley. The satellite radio program airs on Sirius Channel 93 and XM Channel 209 at 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. El Paso time. Here are the latest candidates for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III).

Extensive video regarded the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) can also been seen on the following national websites: Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Times, Blood Horse, Paulick Report and Surebet Racing News.

A post position draw for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) will takes place on Wednesday, March 21.

Coined the “Gateway to Greatness,” Sunland Park’s major event has produced a series of racing stars. 2009 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) fourth place finisher Mine That Bird went on to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby (Gr. I) at 50-1 odds. 2011 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) third place finisher Ruler on Ice won the Belmont Stakes (Gr. I). 2005 WinStar Derby winner Thor’s Echo scored a big win in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

This year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) at one and one-eighth miles promises to be one of the strongest and deepest in recent years. Trainers Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, Jerry Hollendorfer, Jeff Bonde, Tim Ice and Henry Dominguez are some of top trainers pointing for the rich Sunland feature.

Baffert aims for his second Sunland Derby (Gr. III) crown with Gr. III Southwest Stakes winner Castaway. The son of Street Sense has come along handsomely at 3 and won convincingly at Oaklawn Park. The bay colt packs a strong cruising speed with plenty of staying power. His most recent drills are sharp. He has earned $209,930 but hungers for added graded earnings. Baffert last won the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) formerly named the WinStar Derby with Wanna Runner in 2006.

Ender Kneivel will represent Todd Pletcher in the $800,000 classic. The chestnut colt is an elegantly bred son of Distorted Humor and is out of the stakes winning A.P. Indy mare Ender’s Sister. Ender Kneivel rocketed to a near 8 length maiden win on Feb. 5 in a $51,500 maiden race at Gulfstream Park. He is owned in part by former Sunland Park race horse owner Gill Moutray. 2011 Kentucky Derby winning rider John Velazquez has been his rider.

Daddy Nose Best races for the Asmussen team fresh off a driving nose win in the Gr. III El Camino Real Derby at Golden State fields over the Tapeta synthetic surface. The Scat Daddy colt earned an impressive 92 Beyer speed figure. Daddy Nose Best ran sixth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He has earned over $113,000 from two career wins. Two-time Eclipse Award winning rider Julien Leparoux has been his regular pilot.

Isn’t He Clever ranks as the local powerhouse following two commanding stakes victories at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. The fast son of Smarty Jones won both the $104,200 Riley Allison Futurity and the $150,000 Borderland Derby in stakes record time. He remains unbeaten over New Mexico soil for El Paso owners Kirk and Judy Robison. Mr. Robison is President of Peter Piper Industries. Isn’t He Clever was second in the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington and fourth in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Henry Dominguez won the 2007 WinStar Derby with the classy Song of Navarone. Isn’t He Clever clearly owns the home course advantage.

Jeff Bonde, the 2011 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winning trainer with Twice the Appeal, is shipping in Majestic Stride from Oaklawn Park.

Jerry Hollendorfer will saddle multiple stakes winner Longview Drive. The legendary trainer has over 6,000 career wins. Longview Drive has over $102,000 in graded stakes earnings.

2009 Belmont Stakes winning trainer Tim Ice will saddle No Spin. The Johannesburg colt ran fourth in the $200,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. He is owned in part by Leonard Blach, co-owner of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

The $200,000 Sunland Parks Oaks, the $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes, the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap, the $110,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby, the $110,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks and the $110,000 La Coneja Stakes are also a part of the all-Thoroughbred 13-race program worth over $1.6 million.

Baffert is sending the terrific filly Princess Arabella to run in the Sunland Park Oaks. The three-year-old sensation is unbeaten in two starts at Santa Anita. Baffert won last year’s Sunland Park Oaks by 25 lengths with Plum Pretty. Baffert has won the Sunland Park Oaks three times in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Post Time for Sunland Derby day is 12:45 p.m. mountain time. Last year’s record attendance reached 18,571 fans.

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