Pletcher And Baffert Pair Tops Lucrative Sunland Derby

A total of seven stakes races totaling at least $1.4 million will be on the line at Sunland Park on Sunday, with the jewel come in the form of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) for three-year-olds.

Sham S. (G3) winner Midnight Hawk comes in off of a distant second in the San Felipe (G2) behind a fine winner, but was well clear of third on that occasion and will be tough with his best in this spot. The Bob Baffert trainee has been very consistent leading up to this and could be favored in this fray. Baffert’s other, Chitu, was a game second in his stakes debut last time and the talented son of Henny Hughes could be the one as he’s run big in each of his three lifetime runs.

Pletcher’s Commissioner was a sharp allowance winner at Gulfstream in a real competitive field and looms large with another step forward. The well-bred colt has speed and will never be that far back in this heat. Global Strike is the second of the Pletcher duo and has some upside as a runner who should love to run long. Cody Autrey’s Smarty Jones S. winner Tanzanite Cat, Bourbonize, and the top three from the Mine That Bird S. here – Proceed, Rebranded and Ima Happy Strike, add to the depth of this lucrative race.

Also on tap for this Sunday is the $200,000 Sunland Oaks, which tops five other stakes races on the signature day of the meeting.

2014 G3 $800,000 Sunland Derby Information

Date: Sunday, March 23
Where: Sunland Park, New Mexico
Post Time: 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT
Distance: 1 1/8 Mile Dirt
Purse: $800,000
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Field and odds for the 2014 G3 $800,000 Sunland Derby