Saturday, October 20, 2012
Sunland Park will offer a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse stakes schedule more than $5.25 million in purses during its 2012-13 meet, which opens December 7.
A total of 48 stakes are on the docket, 28 for Thoroughbreds and 20 for Quarter Horses. Topping the Thoroughbred stakes schedule for the 11th straight season will be the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby for 3-year-olds on Sunday, March 24. With a purse of $800,000, the Sunland Derby is only graded Thoroughbred stakes in New Mexico, and it has become one of the country's major races on the Triple Crown trail.
Another major Thoroughbred stakes, the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, is also scheduled for March 24, as are three $100,000-guaranteed races 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 for fillies.
Other Thoroughbred stakes highlights at Sunland Park include the 1 1/16-mile, $130,000 Mine That Bird Stakes, which replaces the Borderland Derby on the schedule. Renamed to honor the New Mexico-based gelding who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) at odds of 50-1, the Mine That Bird will be the major local prep for the Sunland Derby.
Sunland Park's Quarter Horse stakes schedule is topped by the 400-yard, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on December 30. Past winners of this race include AQHA world champions A Ransom (2001), Streakin Sin Tacha ('02), and Cold Cash 123 ('11).
Another major Quarter Horse stakes, the 21st running of the 440-yard, $100,000-added Bank of America Sunland Challenge (G2), is scheduled for April 7. Past winners of this race, which offers a starting berth to the Grade 1, $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship to its winner, include champion Rylees Boy and one-time 440-yard world-record holder Kendall Jackson.
Sunland Park's 76-day meet runs through April 16, with racing primarily on a Friday-Sunday and Tuesday schedule. The will be no racing on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3. For more information, including a complete stakes schedule, visit the track's website at www.sunland-park.com.