Sunland Derby & Oaks Prep Races

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
by Eric Alwan


Sunday’s $100,000 Riley Allison Derby preps for $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III)


Sunday’s 56th running of $100,000 Riley Allison Derby at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is the first local prep for the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 24.

An intriguing field of 10 three-year-olds has signed on for the 9th race at one mile. 2018 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winning trainer Todd Fincher has two in the race with Sheriff Brown and Myhotrodlincoln. Sheriff Brown is a half-brother to last year’s Riley Allison Derby and Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner Runaway Ghost. The son of Curlin recently romped to a maiden score on Jan. 15 going one mile. The 10-1 morning line shot is improving fast and gets jockey Ry Eikleberry in the saddle. Myhotrodlincoln is stakes placed at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Juvenile and broke his maiden at Zia Park last Dec. 9 by over 8 lengths. Roimes Chirinos rides the 6-1 shot.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen counters with two strong horses. The classy Nitrous has been tabbed the 8-5 morning line favorite with a six figure bankroll and a third place finish in last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He was a beaten favorite finishing fourth in his last race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 10. Sunland Park’s leading rider Luis Contreras gets the mount. Rotation is the second part of the Asmussen attack coming off a fast closing 2nd in a $41,000 maiden race at the Fair Grounds. Asmussen won the 2017 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) with Hence.

Thunderousapplause looks very dangerous for trainer Casey Lambert coming off a 5 length maiden win over Sheriff Brown at Zia Park on Dec. 4.

Rocktizway is unbeaten in two starts for trainer Mike Neatherlin having won in New Mexico and Louisiana.


$65,000 Borderplex on Sunday gives clues for $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks


The $65,000 Borderplex Stakes (8th race) on Sunday should give us some clues to the Sunland Park Oaks to be run March 24. A wide open field of nine 3-year-old fillies will race six and one-half furlongs. Owner Cleber Massey and trainer Joel Marr won this race and the Sunland Park Oaks with Blamed in 2018. This year, they combine forces with the local maiden winner Figure.

5-2 morning line Super Simple races for Steve Asmussen. Parade of Roses, Elusive Roses, Aim Happy and K P Slickem also merit serious consideration.


$211,142 Shue Fly Stakes staged on Saturday


Saturday’s card focuses in on elite Quarter Horses with the 47th running of the $211,142 Shue Fly Stakes (9th race) and the $50,000 Rio Grande Handicap (8th race).

A terrific field is set for the Shue Fly at 400 yards. Top qualifier Hs Paul Walker meets the extremely sharp Woodys Copy Cat who is seeking his fifth straight win. 2018 New Mexico Breeders Futurity winner Saul makes a lasting impression for trainer Wes Giles.


$50,000 Rio Grande Handicap is the co-feature


$466,000 stakes winner Eye N Capo ships in from Louisiana for the Rio Grande to be run at 350 yards. Eye N Capo won three stakes last year and was a close second in the Refrigerator Stakes at Lone Star Park on October 13, 2018. He has won 9 of 16 starts in his brilliant career. Jesse Lee Levario gets the return riding assignment. Papaws Paint, a third place finisher in last year’s All American Derby, rates very highly in the co-featured event.


Evans approaching 2,000 career wins


5-time Sunland Park training champion Justin Evans is quickly approaching 2,000 career wins. Through Tuesday, Evans has 1,997 career wins with over $24 million in earnings. Post time on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday is 12:30 p.m.