Sunday, June 24, 2012
Robert Junk will be the racing secretary during the 76-day Sunland Park meet, which opens December 7.
Junk replaces Mike Shamburg, who will be the racing secretary during Remington Park's 2012 Thoroughbred meet. Junk is currently serving as racing secretary at Ruidoso Downs, whose 61-day summer season ends September 3, and he has served in the same capacity at Zia Park and several tracks in Arizona, including Prescott Downs and Yavapai Downs.
During its June 21 meeting in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Racing Commission approved Sunland Park's 2012-13 stakes schedule. The 1 1/8-mile, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), New Mexico's only graded Thoroughbred stakes and one of the country's major Triple Crown preps, will be run on March 24, the same day as the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.
Also, track management announced that the Sunland Derby's primary local prep, the Borderland Derby, has undergone a name change. The 1 1/16-mile, $130,000 race will be known as the Mine That Bird Derby to honor the New Mexico-based horse who ran second in the 2009 Borderland Derby, two starts before he scored an upset victory in the Grade 1, $2-million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Sunland Park has also changed the name of the Sydney Valentini Handicap (R) for New Mexico-bred distaffers to the Peppers Pride Handicap. The change honors Peppers Pride, a state-bred mare by Desert God who won all 19 of her starts.
Sunland Park stall applications are due on September 23. The track's stable area opens November 12. For more information, visit the track's website at www.sunland-park.com.