Perfection is on the line in Sunland Derby

March 28, 2010 | Gary Quill

Thanks to the success of Mine That Bird in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and plenty of political arm-twisting of the NTRA by the New Mexico Racing Commission, the Sunland Derby gained Graded Stakes status for the first year since its inception in 2003. Graded Stakes Earnings is what ultimately determines the pecking order of what twenty (20) 3 year olds get to run in the Kentucky Derby. Therefore, any stakes race for 3 year olds that is “graded” will attract plenty of entrants.


On Sunday the $800,000 Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park (NM) attracted a field of nine (9). It is the 12th race on the card, approximate Post Time will be 5:45pm Mountain Time (i.e. 7:45pm EDT), run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles.


The 9-5 Morning Line favorite, #3 – Conveyance is undefeated in 4 lifetime starts, including 2 in Grade 3 events, one on synthetic and one on natural dirt. The Sunland Park oval is a natural dirt surface. Among his 8 foes is Gr. 2 Risen Star  runner-up #9 – Tempted To Tapit (3-1), Gr. 3 Gotham third-place finisher #2 – Nacho Friend (9-2), multiple Graded Stakes placed on CA synthetic surfaces, #6 – Classical Slew (6-1), a WinStar Farm maiden winner at Oaklawn Park, #5 – Endorsement (10-1), fourth-place finisher in Gr. 3 El Real Camino Derby , #7 – Fog Alert (12-1) and 3 local Sunland Park runners exiting the Borderland Derby… winner via DQ #1 – Storming Saint  (8-1), a troubled fifth #8 – Guiltybyassociation (20-1) and #4 – McKenna’s Justice (15-1) who faded to seventh.


I typically take a stand against the favorite, and in this race have no problem in doing so (is he nuts?!). Though his pedigree indicates he should get a 1 1/8 mile, Conveyance shortened stride in the final furlong of the one mile Southwest, his longest race to date, as he covered the final 2 furlongs in 26 1/5. In all of his races he’s been on the lead. Here, he’ll be hard-pressed to be on the lead as at least 2 others (Tempted To Tapit and Classical Slew) will be contesting him for the lead early on. It’s unlikely that any of these 3 will survive a hot pace and last 9 furlongs. Those who can hang off that pace and could make their presence known in the final furlong are Storming Saint, Endorsement and Guiltybyassociation.


Go out on a limb and go with #5 – Endorsement because he has some impressive workouts leading up to this event and jockey Robby Albarado is making the trip from Louisiana to ride him for the first time… Hmmmm. Complete your exotics by including #1 – Storming Saint, #2 – Nacho Friend, #3 – Conveyance and #8 – Guiltybyassociation.


Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.