Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino
Saturday, March 7, 2020
by Eric Alwan
Aggressive Driver wins $184,346 West Texas Derby
Under a heady ride from jockey Mauro Salcedo, Aggressive Driver took command in deep stretch and held on for a dramatic victory in Saturday’s 57th running of the $184,346 Grade III West Texas Derby at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Owned by Ricardo Bernal and Reymundo Resendez of El Paso, Texas, the Cynthia Gonzalez-trained son of Mr Jess Perry broke well from the starting gate, always looming a factor in the 400-yard dash. The California-bred gelding took command in the final 100 yards before holding off a furious rally from post time favorite Kj Frankie B, winning by a nose in a final time of 19.57 seconds and earning an Equibase Speed Index figure of 87 in the process.
Aggressive Driver earned a spot in the West Texas Derby winning his trial heat here on Feb. 14. The victory in the West Texas Derby is his fourth straight, which includes a win in the $30,000 Albuquerque Juvenile last October at the Downs at Albuquerque. He broke his maiden last July when making his third career start at Ruidoso Downs.
Gonzalez adds another mark to her already strong resume, having captured the title of leading quarter horse trainer last season at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Sent off as the 2.30-to-1 second choice in the wagering, Aggressive Driver returned $6.60 to his winning backers. The $86,586 lion’s share of the West Texas Derby purse increases his career earnings to more than $131,000 while winning for the fifth time in nine lifetime starts.
Kj Frankie B, sent off at odds of 9-to-5, was unlucky to just miss under jockey Alan Hernandez. The $2 exacta payoff with those top two finishers returned a healthy $18.40.
Apollitical J Wild, ridden by Paul Garcia finished third, just ahead of Ratatattat and jockey Noe Garcia, Jr. Hotsempting and Dr Tool were scratched from the race earlier in the day.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 10-race live program that begins at 1 p.m. local time. Don’t forget to spring forward your clocks tonight for daylight savings time.
The $700,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) is quickly approaching. Sunland Park’s biggest day with $1.5 million in purses happens on Sunday, March 22. The winner of the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) receives a virtual berth into this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography