Player Quick Pick: G3 Sunland Derby for 3/23/2014

March 23rd, 2014

It's Sunday Funday!

Sunland Park race 11 | 7:40 pm ET G3 Sunland Derby for 3yo going 1-1/8 mi.

1-Bourbonize: undefeated before a troubled trip in the Southwest 2-Garen: became a different horse on the lead and the stretchout 3-Commissioner: +blinkers off forgettable Fountain of Youth effort (same was said about now-Spiral winner We Miss Artie) 4-Global Strike: yet to run a bad race, even with a bad stumble out of the gate 5-Tanzanite Cat: consistent speed just didn't fire in the Southwest 6-Lawly's Goal: consistent against AZ-breds 7-Midnight Hawk: always runs his race, but may be a Needs the Lead Or Spits the Bit type 8-Rebranded: back-to-back big efforts since leaving Pletcher for New Mexico 9-Chitu: has done nothing wrong

Year in, year out the Sunland Derby is an interesting race. And this year is no exception.

It's cool to see so many shippers now taking advantage of the opportunity to prep for the Derby in the New Mexico sunshine: 3 of this group last ran at Santa Anita, 2 each at Oaklawn and Gulfstream. And when big name barns like Baffert and Pletcher ship in, they bring big name jockeys too: Mike Smith, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza ~ always great to see what these guys can do on the road.

Let's look at the cross-country shippers: Bourbonize is a very nice horse and - with time - could be a monster 3yo; Commissioner had no chance with how the track played in the Fountain of Youth and we should see what he can really do today; Global Strike is The Other Pletcher and should step up nicely off a big maiden score; and Tanzanite Cat who took the Smarty Jones impressively in his first route try.

Of the SoCal contingent: Garen is speed second time routing; Midnight Hawk has to prove he's not just a talented miler; and Chitu ran as good of a race as Candy Boy in the Bob Lewis, just didn't quite get the run of the turn.

Local hopes are pinned on the talented Rebranded, a well-bred son of Tiznow that used to be in the Pletcher barn before joining Justin Evans and winning the Riley Allison Futurity. Not sure what went wrong in the Mine That Bird Derby, but the colt will be getting blinkers today. Honorable mention goes to Lawly's Goal: an Arizona-bred son of Lucky Pulpit  making his 12th career start.

Molly Jo's wagering selections: 9 - 3 - 7 - 4 - 8