Monday, December 05, 2011
Sunland Park Racetrack opens its 77-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet on Tuesday. Post time for the first of 11 races is 12:25 p.m. (MST).
Sunland Park's stakes schedule features 55 races, 35 for Thoroughbreds and 20 for Quarter Horses. Also, 22 of the track's 55 stakes are restricted to New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.
As in recent years, Sunland's racing schedule will be topped by the 10th running of the 1 1/8-mile, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) on Sunday, March 25. Nationally recognized as one of the major Triple Crown prep races in North America, the Sunland Derby last year produced Ruler On Ice, a Kentucky-bred son of Roman Ruler who ran third in the Sunland Derby and went on to win the $1-million Belmont Stakes (G1), the third jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Sunland Derby is one of seven Thoroughbred stakes slated for March 25. One of the other stakes, the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies was won by Plum Pretty, a daughter of Medaglia D'Oro who won the Grade 1, $1-million Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in her next start.
Three state-bred stakes are scheduled for March 25 – the 1-mile, $110,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby (R) for 3-year-olds, the 1-mile, $110,000 New Mexico Breeders' Oaks (R) for sophomore fillies, and the 5 1/2-furlong, $110,000 La Coneja Stakes (R) for fillies and mares.
Also, the purse of the 1 1/16-mile Borderland Derby has been increased by $50,000 to $150,000. This season's Borderland Derby will be run on February 25, four weeks before the Sunland Derby.
“That's the prep for the Sunland Derby, and we wanted to try to attract more horses to come run in the prep,” said track general manager Harold Payne.
Sunland Park's Quarter Horse stakes schedule is topped by the 11th running of the 400-yard, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on December 31. Past winners of this race include AQHA world champions A Ransom and Streakin Sin Tacha, as well as New Mexico-bred AQHA divisional champions Gotta Get and First Moonflash.
Other noteworthy Quarter Horse stakes on the schedule include the 440-yard, $110,000-added Bank of America New Mexico Challenge (G2) and 300-yard, $300,000-est. New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG2) for state-bred 2-year-olds, both of which will be run on April 8; and the 300-yard, $250,000-est. West Texas Futurity (G1) on April 15.
Visitors to Sunland Park will also be greeted by a new infield video board, which Payne said will be larger than the old board. Also, Sunland's simulcast signal will get more exposure in California this year, as the track's races are scheduled to be sent to California every Tuesday and on some Sundays.
Purses at Sunland are projected to be $250,000 per day, same as last season.
For more information, visit the track's website at www.sunland-park.com.