It’s almost time to saddle up! Sunday, track officials had the official position draw for the biggest race of the year at the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Fans, owners, and jockeys learned their starting positions Sunday for the 16th Running of the Sunland Derby. The annual racing event draws some of the top horses and trainers in the country as a Grade III Stakes race.
“This is a very major league event. The horse that wins this race will actional get 50 points which usually, historically, has gotten that horse into the Kentucky Derby,” Tony Chavez, Marketing Manager with Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino said.
The race will include horses from big-name trainers including Bob Baffert, who has had five horses win the Kentucky Derby and who also trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. Baffert is will be running Mucho Gusto in this year’s Sunland Derby.
In addition to Baffert, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher has three horses in this year’s Sunland Derby: Current, Cutting Humor and Federal Case. Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen will also be running Wicked Indeed.
Locally trained horses will also be well-represented at the Derby, including Walker Stalker, the New Mexico-bred thoroughbred trained by Jose Gonzalez, Dr.
Last year’s Sunland Derby champion Runaway Ghost, was locally trained by Todd Fincher. This year, Fincher returns with a strong contender in Hustle Up. Fincher hopes to become Sunland Derby’s second trainer to win back-to-back runnings of the Grade III Sunland Derby.
The Sunland Derby will be held next Sunday, March 24, as the 11th race in a 12-race all-Thoroughbred card. In addition to the 50 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby, the winner also stands to earn $800,000. Post time for the day program is 12:50 p.m. with the Sunland Derby post beginning at 5:30 p.m.
- Mucho Gusto; Owner – Michael Peterson, Trainer – Bob Baffert
- Anothertwistafate; Owner – Peter Redekop B.C. Ltd., Trainer – Blain D. Wright
- Bellafina; Owner – Kaleem Shah; Trainer – Simon Callaghan
- Hustle Up: Owner – Dale F. Taylor Racing LLC, Bobby J. McQueen, and Suzanne Kirby; Trainer – Todd Fincher
- Current; Owner – Eclipse Thoroughbreds Partners, Robert V. La Penta, and Dixiana Farms, LLC., Trainer – Todd Pletcher
- Mr. Money Bags; Owner – Roy W. Cobb, Trainer Mike Neatherlin
- Cutting Humor; Owner – Starlight Racing, Trainer – Todd Pletcher
- Federal Case; Owner – Robert E and Lawana L Low, Trainer: Todd Pletcher
- Walker Stalker; Owner – Miguel Gallegos; Trainer – Jose Gonzalez, Jr.
- More Ice; Owner – Richard Robertson, Kenwood Racing, Inc. Hollendorfer, LLC., Trainer – Jerry Hollendorfer
- Wicked Indeed; Owner – Winchell Thoroughbred, LLC., Trainer – Steve Asmussen