Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Thursday, March 23, 2017
by Eric Alwan
Bronze Age tabbed 3-1 favorite for $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) on Sunday
Bronze Age has been tabbed the 3-1 morning line favorite in a deep 12-horse field for Sunday’s $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Coming off a rousing maiden win at Santa Anita Park, the swift son of Mineshaft looks to be the chief speed horse in the 14th installment of Sunland Park’s biggest race (9th race) at one and one-eighth miles. Trainer Bob Baffert is gunning for his fourth Sunland Derby (Gr. III) title, while rider Martin Garcia seeks his third crown. The potent trainer-jockey combination has won two of the last three Sunland Derbies. A win on Sunday would give Bronze Age 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby and a virtual birth in the “Run for the Roses.”
Bronze Age earned a field best 93 Beyer speed figure from his one mile maiden win on Feb. 18. Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Inc. of Lexington, Kentucky, Bronze Age has an unusually high cruising speed and deserves favoritism. He will break from post position #3 while facing the biggest field in the graded history of the Sunland Derby (Gr. III).
Sunland Park hero Conquest Mo Money represents the strongest chance for a local runner to win the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) since Song of Navarone did so in 2007. Owned by leading owners Judge Lanier Racing (Tom and Sandy McKenna), Conquest Mo Money is unbeaten in three route races this season including impressive wins in the $100,000 Riley Allison Stakes and the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby. In his latest triumph, the son of Uncle Mo turned away Irap who returns for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III).
Trained by Miguel Hernandez, Conquest Mo Money holds the home field advantage and is listed as the 9-2 second choice. The winner of nearly $133,000 breaks from post position #12 with jockey Jorge Carreno.
Todd Pletcher’s Hedge Fund looks very imposing returning from an emphatic $45,000 maiden win at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4. The Super Saver colt is owned by Winstar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing. Ridden by the highly talented Jose Ortiz, Hedge Funds breaks from the #2 hole.
Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas saddles Dilettante and has assigned fellow Hall of Famer Gary Stevens for the mount. Recent Hall of Fame inductee Steve Asmussen is sending both Total Tap and Hence. Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Doug O’Neill ships in Irap, runner-up in the Mine That Bird Derby. Two-time Kentucky Derby winner jockey Mario Gutierrez gets the call.
Here’s the field in post-position order:
1. Shareholder Value (Javier Castellano) 6-1.
2. Hedge Fund (Jose Ortiz) 6-1.
3. Bronze Age (Martin Garcia) 3-1.
4. Oxford Lane (Richard Eramia) 15-1.
5. Irap (Mario Gutierrez) 6-1.
6. Dilettante (Gary Stevens) 12-1.
7. Kimbear (Joe Talamo) 15-1.
8. Wine N Devine (Miguel Perez) 30-1.
9. Hence (Alfredo Juarez, Jr.) 12-1.
10. Balandeen (Channing Hill) 10-1.
11. Total Tap (Florent Gereaux) 10-1.
12. Conquest Mo Money (Jorge Carreno) 9-2.
Grade 1 winner Noted and Quoted faces solid fillies in $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks
The 16th running of the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks (7th race) and one and one-sixteenth miles showcases Noted and Quoted. The Grade 1 stakes winner of the Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita will attract much betting attention. She is the 9-5 morning line favorite. Martin Garcia is the rider. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Sunland Oaks a record 7 times. The Sunland Park Oaks winner receives 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Oaks.
Todd Pletcher’s Ghalia (3-1) presents a clear and present danger to the favorite. She is a royally bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and is unbeaten in two Gulfstream Park starts.
El Paso Times Stakes winner and Island Fashion Stakes runner-up Kell Paso is the top local filly for trainer Greg Green.
$1.5 million stakes filled card on Sunday – Advance wagering begins Saturday
Judge Lanier Racing’s African Rose goes for a record fourth win in the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap at one mile. Her chief rivals include Catsadiva, Danzatrice and K P Wildcat.
The $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes, $100,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby, $100,000 La Coneja Stakes and $100,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks also have strong fields. The entire 10-race all-Thoroughbred card on Sunday is worth over $1.5 million.
Tom Dawson, Robert Geller and Julie Farr will chair an informative handicapping seminar on Sunday at 12 noon in the Signature Showroom. Admission is free.
Advance wagering on the entire Sunland Derby (Gr. III) card begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. Post time on Sunday is 1:30 p.m. The Sunland Derby (Gr. III) is expected to run at 5:28 p.m. El Paso Time.