Sunland Park: Derby Prep Looks For First Kentucky Derby Champ Sunday

Chris Adams

The Sunland Park Derby is a 50 point prep race for the Kentucky. The race has yet to produce a winner on the first Saturday in May. In fact it is perhaps most famous for being the Justify smoke screen en route to a triple crown.

Justify’s Smoke Screen

Justify was supposedly routed for the Sunland Park Derby before his triple crown run in 2018
Image Courtesy of Blood Horse

Although the race has yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, one of the most famous story lines surrounding the race includes a triple crown. Bob Baffert had a really good colt in 2018. Normally this would have been identified in 2017, but Justify did not race as a 2 year old.

The horse was ready to go and Baffert snuck him into a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita. Justify won and thus began down the Derby trail. Immediately connections started pointing to the Sunland Derby. This it appears was just a ruse to ensure that the allowance race they wanted would fill at Santa Anita.

It is not uncommon for connections to avoid entering races if they feel there is a monster in there. This can cause races to be left unfilled and the races are not run. Such an occurrence would have caused a disruption to young colt’s plan.

In the end Justify romped in the allowance and continued on to a Santa Anita Derby and a triple crown.

Sunland Derby Analysis

Sunland Park Race 11

Post: 5:15 PM MT; Purse: $500,000 Sunland Park Derby, 1 1/8 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 8

Straight Up G is a likely favorite in the Sunland Park Derby
Image Courtesy of Blood Horse
  • #8 STRAIGHT UP G (5-2) is in with a great chance based on the horse's class & pace numbers.
  • #4 SLOW DOWN ANDY (2-1) is a major player in today's race edging the field in several key handicapping factors including speed figures.
  • #2 CLASSIC MOMENT (7-2) could get a perfect pace scenario today.
  • #5 BYE BYE BOBBY (9-2) has run well when stretching out. Maybe this one can pull the modest upset.

Selections: 8-4-2-5

Sunday Undercard Analysis

Sunland Park Race 1

Post: 12:25 PM MT; Purse: $28,000 Maiden Special Weight, 6 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 7

  • #4 BIG SKIPPER (7-2) is in with a great chance based on the horse's stamina & breeding.
  • #1 MISS LUCKY LADY (4-1) is proven as a good bet to at least hit the board under today's distance and surface conditions.
  • #3 RAPID EXPANSION (7-2) is in with a great chance based on the horse's record at the distance & pace numbers.
  • #5 AXEL STEEL (3-1) should be competitive today based on the horse's speed & race flow.

Selections: 4-1-3-5

Sunland Park Race 2

Post: 12:51 PM MT; Purse: $39,000 Allowance, 6 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 6

  • #4 DIABOLICAL MIGHT (9-2) is in with a great chance based on the horse's class & power rating.
  • #3 HALF COURT SAM (7-2) is a major player in today's race edging the field in several key handicapping factors including speed & pace numbers.
  • #1 QUANTUM BULL (2-1) looks to have to have kept the best company in the previous starts.
  • #6 CANYON DEL ORO (7-2) is worth a look here given edges in connections & race flow.

Selections: 4-3-1-6

Sunland Park Race 3

Post: 1:18 PM MT; Purse: $19,100 Starter Optional Claiming, 6 1/2 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 8

  • #4 SUNSCREEN (3-1) looks tough to beat here given the edge in a number of key categories including speed & class.
  • #2 KRIS WHO (5-1) comes into the race signaling a big performance in the near future.
  • #3 FULL OF DRIVE (9-2) could get a perfect pace scenario today.
  • #8 DADDY WHAT IF (4-1) makes some sense on paper but just doesn’t seem to stack up as well as the odds would suggest in this one.

Selections: 4-2-3-8

Sunland Park Race 4

Post: 1:45 PM MT; Purse: $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial S., 6 1/2 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 7

  • #7 MINISTER OF SOUL (3-1) is worth a look here given edges in form & power rating.
  • #2 TEAM MERCHANTS (7-2) should be competitive today based on the horse's speed & class.
  • #6 EL CHAVO DEL OCHO (7-2) has been running against better and may enjoy a little relief today.
  • #4 GODDARD (5-1) is worth a look here given edges in record at the distance & pace numbers.

Selections: 7-2-6-4

Sunland Park Race 5

Post: 2:13 PM MT; Purse: $48,600 Allowance, 5 1/2 Furlongs on Dirt; Entries: 10

  • #2 TUTTA TERLINGUA (12-1) is in with a big chance for an upset. This one looks like a strong prospect edging the field in several key handicapping factors including connections & power rating.
  • #6 COUNT THEM AGAIN (3-1) is in with a great chance based on the horse's class & form.
  • #10 TIGHT FITTIN JEANS (5-1) rates out well on overall power rating, but the post is a bit of a challenge.
  • #8 PROOFSINTHEPUDDIN (8-1) goes out for a solid barn.

Selections: 2-6-10-8

Sunland Park Race 6

Post: 2:42 PM MT; Purse: $100,000 Harry Henson H., 1 Mile on Dirt; Entries: 7

  • #6 OUR IRIS ROSE (3-1) is a major player in today's race edging the field in several key handicapping factors including speed & power rating.
  • #3 BOLD REY (12-1) should be in the right spot early to give this horse a chance to get the job done.
  • #2 GEMSTONE GAL (2-1) is worth a look here given edges in record at the distance & race flow.
  • #4 SHARAPOVA (3-1) is worth a look here given edges in class & connections.

Selections: 6-3-2-4

Sunland Park Race 7

Post: 3:12 PM MT; Purse: $120,000 New Mexico State University H., 1 Mile 70 Yards on Dirt; Entries: 12

  • #1 SEA EMPEROR (6-1) is worth a look here given edges in record at the distance & pace numbers.
  • #4 JET N G (4-1) merits consideration in this spot given edges in speed & stamina.
  • #9 STORM BAYOU (15-1) is worth a look here given edges in class & form.
  • #8 EVACUEE (9-2) is worth a look here given edges in race flow & power rating.

Selections: 1-4-9-8

Sunland Park Race 8

Post: 3:42 PM MT; Purse: $250,000 New Mexico Breeders' Oaks, 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 8

  • #3 BELLA DONA (6-5) has a great shot in the race given the speed & pace numbers.
  • #1 CORRINA CORRINA (3-1) looks to have to have kept the best company in the previous starts.
  • #4 RIGHT FOR YOU (5-1) has also run against some really solid fillies thus far in the career.
  • #6 DESERT SPIRIT (5-1) has to be respected based on the connections.

Selections: 3-1-4-6

Sunland Park Race 9

Post: 4:12 PM MT; Purse: $300,000 Sunland Park Oaks, 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 10

  • #8 QUEEN OF THORNS (4-1) should be competitive today based on the horse's speed & form.
  • #6 OPTIONALITY (3-1) is in with a great chance based on the horse's stamina & power rating.
  • #9 MANORELLI (8-1) could get a perfect pace scenario today.
  • #10 MISS HARD KNOCKS (5-1) is worth a look here given edges in record at the distance & pace numbers.

Selections: 8-6-9-10

Sunland Park Race 10

Post: 4:42 PM MT; Purse: $250,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby, 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 10

  • #9 MASSIVE ROAR (4-1) is a major player in today's race edging the field in several key handicapping factors including speed figures.
  • #3 DIABOLICAL STORM (5-1) merits consideration in this spot given edges in stamina & record at the distance.
  • #5 JET SET WARRIOR (3-1) is worth a look here given edges in class & pace numbers.
  • #10 WHERES BRAYDEN (8-1) could potentially get the right setup in this race at a very nice price.

Selections: 9-3-5-10

Sunland Park Race 11

Post: 5:15 PM MT; Purse: $500,000 Sunland Park Derby, 1 1/8 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 8

Sunland Park Derby analysis provided above.

Selections: 8-4-2-5

Sunland Park Race 12

Post: 5:45 PM MT; Purse: $35,000 Claiming, 1 1/16 Miles on Dirt; Entries: 10

  • #6 IZA DADDY (3-1) is in with a great chance based on the horse's record at the distance & pace numbers.
  • #10 SEXY DEXY (8-1) should be competitive today based on the horse's speed & power rating.
  • #3 WE'RE JUST SAYIN (4-1) has run against some really solid players in previous races and shouldn’t be discounted.
  • #1 GORKY PARK (10-1) should be competitive today based on the horse's stamina & connections.

Selections: 6-10-3-1

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