Sunland Park: The Grade II, $800,000 Sunland Derby at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)
by Brian Nadeau
While this year’s Sunland Derby doesn’t figure to have a lasting impact on the Kentucky Derby, it is an automatic qualifier of sorts, as the winner will be all but guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses, so make sure to give it it’s just due, as you’ll be seeing one of these in Louisville in less than six weeks. While the ML of 12-1 may be clubhouse leader for the worst of the year, you should still get fair value on #5 PEACE, who was a solid fourth to heavyweights McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro in the GII San Felipe at Santa Anita last time out and who will relish the class drop, and it’s not like Mandella to ship without purpose, so you have to think this son of Violence is primed for a big run. Fellow SA invader #1 ALL OUT BLITZ is the horse to beat, and that sharp second to McKinzie in the GIII Sham at the Great Race Place, in which he beat subsequent Oaklawn Park GII Risen Star winner My Boy Jack (who ran third in Saturday’s GII Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds), says as much, and it looks like this son of Concord Point should like getting back to two turns for Callaghan as well. From there, the rest are a mixed bag, but #3 NEW YORK CENTRAL seems to be going the right way for Asmussen after a solid optional-claiming win at OP last time, and as a son of Tapit, he’s bred to be a nice one. The post is a bit of a problem for #11 RUNAWAY GHOST, but he does have a hint of a rating gear, and he’s the best—and by far the fastest—of the locals, so even though he disappointed at 2-5 in the local prep, the Mine That Bird Derby, Fincher has enjoyed a stellar meet and this son of Ghostzapper does have talent, and will be a much better price today to boot.
#1 All Out Blitz
#3 New York Central
#11 Runaway Ghost