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Sunland Derby

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Sunland Derby

Contenders and Morning Line Odds

PP Horse  Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Mucho Gusto (KY)  J Talamo 122 B Baffert 8-5
2 Anothertwistafate (KY)  J J Hernandez 122 B D Wright 3-1
3 Hustle Up (NM)  S Laviolette 122 T W Fincher 5-1
4 Wicked Indeed (KY)  L Contreras 122 S M Asmussen 6-1
5 Cutting Humor (KY)  J R Velazquez 122 T A Pletcher 8-1
6 Walker Stalker (NM)  A Medellin 122 J R Gonzalez, Jr. 15-1
7 Pasamonte Man (NY)  K S Tohill 122 J H Marr 20-1
8 Collusionist (CO)  A J Juarez, Jr. 122 O A Martinez, Jr. 25-1
9 Diamond Blitz (KY)  K J Desormeaux 122 J K Desormeaux 15-1
10 Eye Cloud (KY)  I D Enriquez 122 T A Norris 30-1

Sunland Derby Race History

The Sunland Derby is held annually every March at Sunland Park Racetrack in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The Sunland Derby is contested by three-years-old willing to race at a distance of 1 1/8 miles (or 9 furlongs), and is run on a dirt surface, left-handed track. The maximum weight requirement for fillies is 117 pounds and for colts and geldings it’s 122 pounds.

The Sunland Derby began racing in 2003 and has been held every year except 2016. It was cancelled that year because of an Equine herpesvirus 1 outbreak. The American Graded Stakes Committee labeled it as a grade three status race in 2010. It features a purse of $800,000 and its main sponsor is WinStar Farm. From 2003-2008, the Sunland Derby was known as the WinStar Derby.

The Sunland Derby is a part of the Kentucky Derby prep race circuit and rewards the winner with 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points. No horse has won both the Sunland Derby and the Kentucky Derby in the same year, but Mine That Bird did compete in the event and later go on to win the Kentucky Derby. He finished fourth in the 2009 Sunland Derby before wining the


About the Sunland Derby

The Sunland Derby is run out of Sunland Park in New Mexico. As an official leg of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, it offers 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers. It is listed as a Grade-III stakes race and offers an $800,000 purse.

Inaugurated in 2003, the first race was won by Excessivepleasure who clocked a time of 1:42.84 over 8 ½ furlongs. The current speed record holder is Firing Line, who won the 2015 Sunland Derby and is also best known for finishing behind American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

The only other notable winner of this race is Thor’s Echo, the 2005 Sunland Derby winner and 2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion.

In fact, many Sunland winners have gone on to compete in the Kentucky Derby and various legs of the Triple Crown but none have placed as well as Firing Line. Kelly Leak (2009), Tice The Appeal (2011), Daddy Nose Best (2012), Governor Charlie (2013), Chitu (2014) and Hence (2017) all won the Sunland Derby as three-year-old colts, but failed to impress at the American Classics. The best finish amongst them is 9th in the Preakness.

The 2016 Sunland Derby was called off to a sudden, and since resolved, outbreak of an equine herpevirus.

Victor Espinoza and Martin Garcia are the winningest jockeys in Sunland Derby history, each scoring twice in back-to-back years. Espinoza won in 2006 and 2007, while Garcia was the winner in 2013 and 2014.

Bob Baffert owns three wins in the Sunland Derby, winning his most recent two with jockey Martin Garcia aboard Governor Charlie and Chitu.


Sunland Derby Records

The biggest margin of victory at the Sunland Derby is 14 1/2 lengths, which was set by Firing Lane in 2015.

The record for $2 win was set in 2004 by Hi Teck Man at $94.60.

The record for fastest time at the Sunland Derby at its current 1 1/8-mile distance was set by Firing Lane in 2015, with a winning time of 1:47.39. The fastest winning time at its former distance of 8 furlongs was 1:42.84, set by Excessivepleasure in 2003.

The record for most Sunland Derby wins by a jockey is two, with Victor Espinoza (2006, 2007) and Martin Garcia tied for the record. Bob Baffert, with three wins (2006, 2013, 2014), holds the record for most Sunland Derby wins by a trainer. The record for most wins by an owner is two: Michael E. Pegram (2006, 2013). Espinoza, Baffert, and Pegram teamed up to win the Sunland Derby together with Wanna Runner in 2006.


Sunland Derby Past Winners

2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Thor’s Echo is the most famous horse to win the Sunland Derby, taking the crown in 2005 when it was known as the WinStar Derby. Jockeys Pat Day, Mike E. Smith, and Gary Stevens, and trainers Doug O’Neill, Bob Baffert, and Steve Asmussen are other notable Sunland Derby winners.

*2016 No Running (March 20 renewal cancelled in aftermath of equine herpes virus outbreak that put Sunland Park in quarantine procedures on Jan. 21)

Year (Race No.) Winner (Sex) Jockey (Weight) Time (Cond.-Beyer) Sire
Dis.-Track (Starters) Owner(s) Trainer Odds (Margin) Bred (Color)
2015-March 22 (11th) Firing Line (c)* Gary Stevens (122) 1:47.39 (fast-97)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (7) Arnold Zetcher LLC Simon Callaghan 0.20-1 (14 ¼ lengths)
2014-March 23 (11th) Chitu (c)* Martin Garcia (122) 1:47.88 (fast-103)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (9) Tanma Corporation Bob Baffert 1.90-1 (2 ¼ lengths)
2013-March 24 (11th) Govenor Charlie (c)* Martin Garcia (122) 1:47.54 (fast-95)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (9) Mike Pegram Bob Baffert 1.30-1 (5 lengths)
2012-March 25 (12th) Daddy Nose Best (c) Julien Leparoux (122) 1:48.59 (fast-100)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (8) Bob and Cathy Zollars Steve Asmussen 3.70-1 (3/4 length)
2011-March 27 (12th) Twice the Appeal (c) Christian Santiago Reyes (122) 1:50.91 (fast-89)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (11) Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores & Henry Hernandez Jeff Bonde 25.60-1 (1 ½ lengths)
2010-March 28 (12th) Endorsement (c) Robby Albarado (122) 1:48.46 (fast-101)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (9) WinStar Farm LLC Shannon Ritter 11.70-1 (3 lengths)
2009-March 29 (12th) Kelly Leak* (g) Mike Smith (122) 1:50.02 (fast-85)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (12) Blahut Racing LLC, Dennis Avila, Dave Johnson et al Mike Machowsky 2.30-1 (1 ½ lengths)
2008-March 16 (11th) Liberty Bull (g) Gerard Melancon (122) 1:49.82 (fast-86)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (9) Kenneth Maier Tom Amoss 3.00-1 (2 lengths)
2007-March 18 (9th) Song of Navarone (c) Victor Espinoza (122) 1:49.53 (fast-102)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (7) George Coleman Henry Dominguez 2.10-1 (1 ½ lengths)
2006-April 1 (7th) Wanna Runner* (g) Victor Espinoza (122) 1:48.88 (fast-92)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (9) Mike Pegram Bob Baffert 0.90-1 (4 ¾ lengths)
2005-April 2 (12th) Thor’s Echo (g) Corey Nakatani (122) 1:49.59 (fast-92)
1 1/8 Miles-Sun (8) Royce S. Jaime Racing Stable Inc. & Suarez Racing Inc. Doug O’Neill 2.20-1 (1 length)
2004-March 28 (8th) Hi Teck Man (c) Ricardo Jaime (122) 1:43.20 (fast-93)
1 1/16 Miles-Sun (9) Hassel and Bonnie Spraberry Johnnie Nall 46.30-1 (1/2 length)
2003-March 30 (9th) Excessivepleasure (g) Pat Day (122) 1:42.84 (fast-93)
1 1/16 Miles-Sun (8) Lee and Ty Leatherman Doug O’Neill 3.70-1 (neck)


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