$800,000 SUNLAND DERBY (Gr. III) contenders
To be run on Sunday, March 27 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Three year olds racing one and one-eighth miles. First place is worth $400,000 in graded earnings. The Sunland Derby (Gr. III) day card will be an all Thoroughbred 13-race card.
2011 Sunland Derby Odds:
11 – Astrology (Julien Leparoux) 5-2
8 – Nacho Saint (Joe Bravo) 7-2
7 – Sinai (Martin Garcia) 6-1
1 – Ruler on Ice (Jose Valdivia) 8-1
3 – Fusa Code (Justin Shepherd) 8-1
2 – R Skydiver (Alejandro Medellin) 12-1
4 – It’s My Party (Martin Bourdieu) 12-1
5 – Behold de Buy (Ken Tohill) 12-1
9 – Twice the Appeal (Christian Reyes) 15-1
10 – Beer Meister (Glen Corbett) 15-1
6 – Supreme Ruler (Jon Court) 20-1
Owner – Lanni Family Trust.
Trainer – Bob Baffert.
Lifetime Record, 5-2-0-1, $69,580.
A leading contender for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) from the Bob Baffert stable is Awesome Patriot. Coming off a calculated 3-month two-year-old campaign in late 2010, The Awesome Again colt won his career debut at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita and then took on Premier Pegasus in two straight stakes events. He finished a game third to Premier Pegasus in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue last November. Awesome Patriot used his experience against that tough Kentucky Derby contender to score a driving win in a $56,000 allowance at Santa Anita near the end of 2010. He made his three-year-old debut in the $250,000 Grade 2 San Felipe where he would once again face a buzz saw in Premier Pegasus. The latter went on to take a smashing win and is a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby. Awesome Patriot has faced some of the best three-year-olds in the country and can only get better. Baffert won the 2006 WinStar Derby with Wanna Runner. Baffert has run horses in seven of the eight previous Sunland Derbies (Gr. III).
Owner – Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton.
Trainer – Steve Asmussen.
Lifetime Record: 5-2-1-1, $152,893.
With a world class pedigree and human connections that won’t stop, Astrology was meant to be a good thing. The A.P. Indy colt out of the Quiet American mare Quiet Eclipse was favored in all five of his career starts at 2. The Steve Asmussen trainee won twice in 2010, highlighted by a Grade 3 victory in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. At odds-on, he was beaten a short half-length by Santiva in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Juvenile. The classy colt has faced elite company and will be making his three-year-old debut in the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). Astrology brings an efficient stalking style to the races and is usually within a length of the lead at the half mile marker. Consequently, he has finished no worse than third in all five of his starts and earned nearly $153,000. Astrology has been working forwardly at Santa Anita since February. On March 1, he cruised through a 6 furlong drill in 1:12.3. Stonestreet Stables is owned by Jess Jackson, the owner of former Horses of the Year Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Garrett Gomez has been his regular rider.
Owner – Mary and Robert Zollars.
Trainer – Steve Asmussen.
Lifetime Record: 5-1-1-1, $82,444.
Fusa Code broke his maiden in style with a driving win in the $100,000 Borderland Derby sponsored by Casa Ford at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on February 26. The Santa Anita shipper trained by Steven Asmussen took a giant leap forward with his first career win and stamped himself a ticket to the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III). Well handled by jockey Justin Shepherd, Fusa Code remained in a beautiful stalking position through the early stages of the 1 and 1/16 mile event for three-year-olds. The gelded son of Fusaichi Pegasus rated kindly early and launched an aggressive run with three furlongs to go in the feature. He turned the tables on arch rival Special Kid. He was full of run and won by 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:45.06. Despite drifting in during the stretch run, Fusa Code raced clear under a powerful ride from Shepherd. Fusa Code avenged two prior defeats to Special Kid at Santa Anita Park. Shepherd said in the winner’s circle, “He’s a very talented horse. Steve did a great job with him. He’s still a little green, maybe too talented for his own good. Once he got the lead, he tried waiting on them. He should like more distance.” Fusa Code picked up a $60,000 paycheck for owners Mary and Bob Zollars of Dallas, Texas. Mr. Zollars said, “We would love to run him in the Sunland Derby. This was a great test for him.”
Owner – George and Lori Hall.
Trainer – Kelly Breen.
Lifetime Record: 6-1-3-0, $102,300.
East coast trainer Kelly Breen brings a powerful charge to the Sunland Derby (Gr. IIII) in Nacho Saint. The hard trying son of Yes It’s True began his career at the incredibly tough Monmouth Part meet last summer. He ran second in two maiden races each worth over $73,000. In his second maiden race, he was charging fast and was unlucky to lose by only a neck. On July 25, 2010, Breen took his charge to Saratoga and his colt ran a big race in the Grade 2 Sanford. Once again, Nacho Saint gathers in momentum late and closed fast from sixth place to finish second beaten less than 2 lengths. At 3, Nacho Saint campaigned favorably at Aqueduct where he notched his maiden breaking win in wire to wire fashion. The versatile sort won by an expanding 4 lengths and was much the best. In his last out, Nacho Saint took on tough customers in the Grade 3 Gotham. He broke awkwardly but made a bold move along the rail in upper stretch. Unfortunately, he and jockey Joe Bravo ran out of racing room and finished a good fourth. Breen finished fourth in last year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) with Nacho Friend.
RULER ON ICE
Owner – George and Lori Hall
Trainer – Kelly Breen.
Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-0, $60,500.
Ruler On Ice will be the second part of the Kelly Breen attack on the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). The son of Roman Ruler scored a fast closing allowance win at Philadelphia Park on Feb. 22 going 1 and 1/16 miles. The former Delaware Park maiden graduate posted a solid second in an allowance at Aqueduct prior to his Philadelphia effort. The gelding seems to relish route distances.
BEHOLD DE BUY
Owner – Donna Eaton.
Trainer – Joyce Salisbury.
Lifetime Record: 9-2-1-1, $93,378.
The locally based colt trained by Joyce Salisbury sprouted wings in the final furlong to gain a fast closing second in the $100,000 Borderland Derby sponsored by Casa Ford. Under a spirited ride from 5-time Sunland Park jockey champ Ken Tohill, Behold de Buy came within three parts of a length within Fusa Code. Last summer, the son of E Dubai won the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park with a vicious stretch running attack. With an affinity for the local surface, Behold de Buy does command a home court edge. Additionally, the one and one eighth mile distance of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) will serve him well. In the event of a hot pace, Behold de Buy could loom large at a solid price.
Owner – S.A.Y. Racing LLC
Trainer – Doug O’Neill.
Lifetime Record: 6-1-1-2, $61,880.
Two-time Sunland Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill has serious 2010 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) intentions with Special Kid. O’Neill won this race in 2003 with Excessivepleasure and again in 2005 with Thor’s Echo. Special Kid made a local appearance in the Borderland Derby on Feb. 26 and raced as the 3-2 favorite. The gelded son of Lemon Drop Kid was coming off a maiden route victory over Fusa Code at Santa Anita Park. Special Kid ran a valiant race in the Borderland. He raced close to the pace and responded vigorously rounding the far turn, but could not quite stay with Fusa Code in the 1 and 1/16 mile test. He lost second place by a nose in the final jump and had to settle for third, beaten less than a length. With O’Neill’s penchant for winning Sunland Park’s biggest race, Special Kid could still be very dangerous next time out.
Owner – William Burns and Jim Egger
Trainer – Manuel Ortiz, Sr.
Lifetime Record: 4-2-2-0, $39,620.
Dismissed at 40-1 odds, Beer Meister shocked his rivals with a last to first run in the Turf Paradise Derby. He swept past Indian Winter with a commanding move in upper stretch and was much the best on Feb. 26. The gelded son of Pleasant Tap could only get better with more distance. The diminutive runner appears long on heart. He is trained by Manuel Ortiz, Sr.
Owner – Myung Kwon Cho
Trainer – Myong Kwon Cho
Lifetime Record: 9-1-3-3, $197,500.
Riveting Reason hails for a very hot barn. Myung Kwon Cho just scored a dominating win with Premier Pegasus in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. Riveting Reason has generated some strong results in just 9 career outings. As a two-year-old, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus placed in both the Grade 1 Norfolk and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. On Feb. 12, he came within a neck of winning the Grade 2 Robert B Lewis Stakes. The experienced colt set the early pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile before giving way to eventual winner Uncle Mo. Riveting Reason certainly has a touch of class and nearly $200,000 in earnings.
TWICE THE APPEAL
Owner – Edward Brown, Victor Flores and Henry Hernandez.
Trainer – Jeff Bonde.
Lifetime Record: $49,920.
Under the direction of California trainer Jeff Bonde, Twice The Appeal has won 2 races from 9 starts and likes to route. He ran second in the Turf Paradise Derby behind Beer Meister but was disqualified for interference and placed fourth. The Successful Appeal colt is trending upward and merits consideration.
Owner – Winquest Thoroughbreds
Trainer – William Fires.
Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $29,400
This fast closing stretch runner hails from the William Fires barn. The Don’t Get Mad colt used that style effectively at Oaklawn Park this past winter. He broke his maiden in January with a ferocious late kick and was a game second against allowance company in February.
Owner – WinStar Farm.
Trainer – Shannon Ritter.
Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $14,400
Trainer Shannon Ritter won last year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) with Endorsement for the WinStar Farms. Could lightning strike twice in two years? Subtle Irony debuted in winning fashion at Sunland Park on Feb. 20. The son of Artie Schiller raced greenly but was still good enough to dispatch his foes by over 8 lengths.