Sunland Park: The Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Derby at 1 1/8 miles
Major Kentucky Derby points are on the line as the pricey Sunland Derby drew a field of nine 3yo’s that are all trying to prove they belong with the big boys on the Triple Crown trail. With a wide open race full of runners who are, for the most part, unproven going two turns, let’s try #5 SAINT PRADO, who looked great extending his stride late to break his maiden going seven furlongs at Santa Anita in his last dirt debut last time and is bred for the added ground; the right price play. Bob Baffert has a slew of talented 3yo’s and sends recent SA GII San Vicente winner #4 SHAKIN IT UP in for his first two-turn try, and he figures a handful as the class of the field; formidable, though value lies elsewhere. Baffert also ships in #7 GOVENOR CHARLIE, who looked like a new horse when he stretched to two turns to break his maiden at SA in his last start and should be right on or just off today’s pace; scary newcomer. It’s tough to get a gauge on #8 MUDFLATS, who has faced some toughies and wasn’t beaten much by ‘Shakin in the San Vicente, though the gut says he’s not this good; prefer to use underneath. “Horse for course” fans can side with #6 DRY SUMMER, #9 SHOW SOME MAGIC or #3 STORMDRIVER, who ran 1-2-3 in the Mine That Bird Derby, the local prep, though all three will have to run faster here to factor, while flashy recent two-turn MSW winners #1 JUST WIN BABY and #2 ABRAHAM both could factor with further improvement, though they got no help with their tricky inside draws.