Monday, February 13, 2012
This year's 1 1/8-mile, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) – New Mexico's only graded Thoroughbred stakes – has attracted 175 nominations.
One of the nominees, Hansen, was the 2011 Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old colt. A gray or roan colt by Tapit racing for Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing, Hansen has earned $1,233,305 from four starts, and his three victories include last year's $2-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Another nominee, Chadds Ford Stable's Union Rags, is the favorite in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closed on Sunday. The Dixie Union colt won two graded stakes in New York last year and ran second to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, has nominated 28 sophomores to the race, including Starlight Racing's Algorithms, a Kentucky-bred colt by Bernardini who won the one-mile, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on January 29, and Gemologist, an undefeated colt by Tiznow who won the November 26, $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.
Pletcher has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer five times, most recently in 2010. Another of his nominees, Bortolazzo Stables LLC's Stat, has been favored in all three of his starts. The colt by Unbridled's Song ran second in last year's Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse in New York.
Two other multiple Eclipse champion trainers, Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen, have nominated 25 and 20 Triple Crown hopefuls, respectively, to the Sunland Derby. Baffert's nominees include Arnold Zetcher LLC's Liaison, the winner of the December 17, $750,000 Cash Call Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park, and 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint Stakes winner Secret Circle.
Baffert won the 2006 Sunland Derby with Wanna Runner.
The Sunland Derby is just one of seven stakes to be run at the track on Sunday, March 25. The others include three $110,000 stakes restricted to New Mexico-breds – the 5 1/2-furlong La Coneja Stakes (R) for fillies and mares, the 1 1/16-mile New Mexico Breeders' Derby (R) for 3-year-olds, and the 1 1/16-mile New Mexico Breeders' Oaks (R) for sophomore fillies.