Presidential proves best in $200,000 Sunland Park Handicap; Alotaluck speeds away in $125,000 Mine That Bird Derby

Apr 8, 2024

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino

Sunday, April 7, 2024


Presidential proves best in thrilling edition of $200,000 Sunland Park Handicap

Courtlandt Farms’ Presidential scored a hard-fought win under Luis Fuentes in the $200,000 Sunland Park Handicap, the featured race on Sunday’s closing day program at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Presidential stalked early leaders Tulane Tryst and post time favorite Mine That Star, racing third down the backstretch after an opening half mile in 47.78 seconds. As the field reached the far turn, Presidential joined Mine That Star and jockey Ken Tohill on the lead heading for home.

Those two would be joined in midstretch by Bender and jockey Christian Ramos for the drive to the finish line. Mine That Star labored a bit in the final years while Presidential battled furiously to earn the narrow decision by a neck over Bender. The 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile ran the 1 1/8 miles in a time of 1 minute, 49.26 seconds.

Presidential, who was second behind Mine That Star three starts back in the Zia Park Championship last November, snapped a five-race losing streak with his win in the Sunland Park Handicap. The victory improves his career record to five wins from 20 career starts and earnings of more than $517,600.

Sent off as the second choice on the board at odds of 2.60-to-1, Presidential returned $7.20 to his winning backers. The $2 exacta with Bender paid back $56. Mine That Star, who won the Sunland Park Handicap last year, settled for third while Holland rounded out the top four finishers.


Alotaluck speeds away in $125,000 Mine That Bird Derby

In other stakes action on closing day, jockey Tracy Hebert achieved a stakes-winning triple on the closing day program, guiding prohibitive post-time favorite Alotaluck to a determined win in the $125,000 Mine That Bird Derby.

Owned by Eleanor Martin and trained by Ty Garrett, Alotaluck stalked pacesetter No Trouble down the backstretch, drawing alongside that rival midway around the far turn. The 3-year-old, California-bred son of Sir Prancealot inched clear inside the final furlong, winning by 2 1/2 lengths, racing 1 1/16 miles in a time of 1 minute, 44.53 seconds.

Alotaluck was second behind Stronghold last time out in the $400,000 Grade III Sunland Derby on Feb. 18. That winner has since come back with a determined win in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and will likely be one of the favorites for next month’s Kentucky Derby.

Prior to the Sunland Derby, Alotaluck was second in the Riley Allison Derby on Jan. 19. He broke his maiden in his career debut as a 2-year-old last December at Zia Park. The win in the Mine That Bird Derby puts Alotaluck’s career earnings over $207,000.

Sent off at 1-to-9 odds, Alotaluck paid back $2.10 to his winning backers. No Trouble held on for the place under jockey Ken Tohill, the $2 exacta with the top pair returning $10.80. Young Pope finished third with Norwegian Callum rounding out the top four finishers.


Corrina Corrina rolls to victory in $100,000 Peppers Pride Stakes

In the $100,000 Peppers Pride Stakes, Corrina Corrina validated her status as the overwhelming post time favorite with a dominating score under Hebert.

Owned by Derrick Jenkins and trained by Gary Cross, Corrina Corrina was reserved early behind a slow tempo, racing about three lengths behind front-runner First Again passing the half-mile pole. Swung to the outisde, Corrina Corrina quickly made up ground and took the lead midway around the far turn and drew off to an easy 4-length win, racing a mile in 1 minute, 38.41 seconds.

Corrina Corrina, a 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Trieste, avenged a loss in her most recent start, finishing second in the La Coneja Stakes here on Feb. 2. She has now won 13 times from 26 starts and has amassed earnings of more than $893,000. Corrina Corrina has won finished no worse than second in eight of nine starts at Sunland Park and has five wins from seven starts at the one mile distance.

Sent off at 1-to-9 odds, Corrina Corrina returned $2.10 to her winning backers. First Again held on for second place with Felipe Valdez aboard, prompting a $2 exacta payoff of $4.40. Whisper’s Mark was a well-beaten third, with Our Time To Shine settling for fourth.


Only One America posts mild upset in $125,000 Island Fashion Stakes

In earlier stakes action on closing day Sunday, J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Only One America rolled to a convincing wire-to-win under Hebert to capture the $125,000 Island Fashion Stakes.

Trained by Todd Fincher, Only One America raced on an uncontested lead from the first turn to the finish line, showing the way through an easy half mile in 49.76 seconds. The California-bred daughter of Marking opened up a commanding lead at the top of the lane and cruised to a 5 1/4-length win, stopping the clock in a time of 1 minute, 38.23 seconds for the mile.

Only One America came into the Island Fashion on a four-race losing streak. She broke her maiden as a 2-year-old last November at Zia Park and most recently was sixth against allowance company here on March 14. In picking up her second career win from nine starts, Only One America has now reached earnings of more than $123,000.

Sent off at odds of 5.20-to-1, Only One America returned $12.40 to her winning backers. Deviletta, sent off as the post time favorite under Luis Fuentes, was a well-beaten second. The $2 exacta with the top pair paid back $27.40. Everleigh’s Queen finished third with Methods rounding out the top four finishers.


Let Him Be rallies to capture $100,000 New Mexico State University Stakes

In the final race of the 2024 Sunland Park season, Let Him Be circled his rivals around the far turn and pulled clear for an impressive win in the $100,000 New Mexico State University Handicap under jockey Miguel Fuentes, Jr.

Trained by Joel Marr for owners V Bar V Racing, LLC., Let Him Be was never far back of the lead as Mr. Big Rig, Bodie Got Gold, Antonios Mark and I’magambler battled on the front end down the backstretch, racing the opening half mile in 47.27 seconds. Fuentes angled Let Him Be to the outside while making up ground, quickly taking the lead as the field reached the top of the stretch. The son of Sway Away opened up inside the furlong pole, comfortably ahead of a fast closing Thunder Dome for the 1 1-2 length win.

Let Him Be ran the mile and 70 yards in a final time of 1 minute, 41.31 seconds while picking up his seventh win from eight career starts. Now a three-time stakes winner, Let Him Be won the Casino at the Downs Derby last summer at Albuquerque Downs as well as the New Mexico Classic Cup Derby last fall at Zia Park. The victory in the NMSU Stakes pads Let Him Be’s lifetime bankroll to more than $318,000.

Sent off as the even-money favorite, Let Him Be paid $4 to his winning backers. The $2 exacta with Thunder Road prompted a $44.40 return. Antonios Mark finished third with McMercelus settling for fourth.

Taking home the title of leading thoroughbred jockey this season was Alfredo Juarez Jr. One of the leading riders in the southwest over the last 20 years, Juarez has amassed more than 3400 career victories. He rode 34 winners during the Sunland Park season, ahead of Alejando Medellin and Christian Ramos.

Longtime trainer Dick Cappellucci earned another milestone in his legendary career, capturing his first thoroughbred training title at Sunland Park. Cappellucci, a winner of more than 800 races in his 30-plus year career, saddled 30 winners this season, just ahead of Todd Fincher and Martin Valdez-Cabral, Jr.