Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
by Eric Alwan
Sunday’s $100,000 Riley Allison Derby Anchors Huge Weekend
Sunday’s 55th running of the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby spearheads a tremendous card of three stakes races at Sunland Park Racetrack Casino and Hotel.
The one mile feature (9th race) is a key local prep for three-year-olds targeting both the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby on Feb. 25 and the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) on March 25.
Joe Peacock’s classy Runaway Ghost is likely to take much support. The bay colt is by former Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and out of the stellar New Mexico-bred stakes winning mare Rose’s Desert. Runaway Ghost has two wins in California highlighted by a victory in the Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate on November 11. He has faced some of the nation’s best Kentucky Derby hopefuls including McKinzie, Instilled Regard and Solomini. The colt has abundant cruising speed and is now trained by powerhouse conditioner Todd Fincher. The 5-2 morning line favorite has 2 wins and 1 second from 4 career starts and will be ridden by Tracy Hebert.
Two-time stakes winner Fortified Effort brings in a strong resume from Turf Paradise. Sunland Park leading rider Ry Eikleberry will be the jockey for his father, trainer Kevin Eikleberry. Fortified Effort has earned over $127,000 and will be making his first start going one mile.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is sending Delta Downs allowance winner Beautiful Game. Governor’s Stakes winner Just Call Me Ken, Pinpoint and Bortstein are also a part of the 10-horse field.
$65,000 El Paso Times Stakes and $85,000 Dona Ana County Stakes also on Sunday
The $65,000 El Paso Times Stakes (8th race) at six and one-half furlongs came up very strong for three-year-old fillies. Kram, an unbeaten stakes winner, seems the probable favorite in this highly attractive race. Trained by Todd Fincher, Kram won two races at Zia Park last fall including the Permian Basin Stakes where she won by nearly 7 lengths. The daughter of Colonel John has yet to be challenged and has enormous early speed. Roimes Chirinos will ride.
Louisiana Futurity winner Iona Star comes to Sunland Park for the Brittlyn Stables, Inc. of New Orleans. She comes from the same connections as her sire, the great Louisiana millionaire Star Guitar. Iona Star is coming off two smashing wins in Louisiana and will inject speed into a project hot pace.
Steve Amussen sends two fillies into the race including the Remington Park stakes winner Laudation and Delta Downs allowance winner Dream Date.
Trained by Joel Marr, Blamed is coming off two powerful wins at Zia Park. Prior to that, the daughter of Blame was second in her debut behind Kram.
Jess Burner Memorial Handicap winner Play Misty Foreme and Lou Wooten/Sydney Valentini Handicap winner Princess Jesse will do battle in the $85,000 Dona Ana County Handicap (10th race) at 440 yards.
$50,000 KOFX-Radio Stakes on Saturday
Saturday’s feature is the $50,000 KOFX-Radio Handicap (10th race) at 350 yards. Once Over, runner-up in the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (Grade 1), headlines a terrific field of older runners. Trained by Carlos Alvidrez, Once Over finished second beaten a neck to Tf Im That Guy in Sunland’s biggest Quarter Horse race. The extremely sharp Bruce Allmty also looks very dangerous.
$16 million Pegasus World Cup Simulcast on Saturday
The $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship will be simulcast from Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner and runner-up Collected are two of the high profile runners in the world’s richest horse race. Gun Runner is the favorite for 2017 Horse of the Year honors. Collected, winner of the 2016 Sunland Park Festival of Racing, had a big year as well upsetting Arrogate in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Post time on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Friday is 12:30 p.m.