The following previews are courtesy of Eric Alwan, Director of Publicity at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino and the host of Tracktalk, Fridays at 5pm on 600 ESPN El Paso. We will have a special 1-hour Sunland Derby Preview this Friday at 5pm.
Sunland Derby

The $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) will be run on Sunday, March 25 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. Sunland Park’s biggest day showcases an all Thoroughbred 13-race card with over $1.6 million in purses including the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks. With $400,000 in graded earnings, this year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner earns a virtual berth in the Kentucky Derby. The Sunland Derby (Gr. III) day card will receive national television coverage with a one hour live broadcast on TVG from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Time. Prime Ticket, MSG Plus, Sun Sports, Altitude and Fox Sports Regional Networks also have television broadcasts planned. A Sunland Derby (Gr. III) preview happens Saturday, March 24 on “Down The Stretch” hosted by Dave Johnson and Bill Finley. The satellite radio program airs on Sirius Channel 93 and XM Channel 209 at 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mountain Time. Here is the field in post position order for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). Post time on Sunday is 12:45 p.m. The Sunland Derby (Gr. III) post time is slated for 5:45 p.m. Advance wagering on the entire Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Day card begins on Saturday at 10 a.m.

1.  CASTAWAY (Rafael Bejarano, 2-1)

Owner: Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

Trainer: Bob Baffert.

Lifetime Record: 7-2-1-2, $209,930.

Another part of Bob Baffert’s armada of talented three-year-olds, Castaway drew headlines by winning the first division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The Street Sense colt has come along smartly at the age of three. He broke his maiden on Jan. 21 at Santa Anita in his sixth career start. The bay colt controlled the pace throughout the one mile event. The royally bred sort carried that momentum to Arkansas by capturing his first stakes win. Castaway remains on a terrific roll for his sophomore campaign while he hungers for more graded stakes earnings. His recent drills are excellent, and he looms large for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and a possible run at the Kentucky Derby. Castaway’s owners won two Breeders’ Cup races in 2011. Elite rider Rafael Bejarano is the jockey.

2.  ENDER KNIEVEL (John Velazquez, 6-1)

Owner: Alto Racing, LLC.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher.

Lifetime Record: 4-1-1-0, $35,280.

Owned in part by former Sunland Park race horse owner Gil Moutray, Ender Knievel makes an excellent addition to the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) field. The chestnut colt is an elegantly bred son of Distorted Humor (same sire as 2010 Sunland Derby winner Endorsement) and out of the A.P. Indy stakes winning mare Ender’s Sister. On Feb. 5, Ender Knievel blasted his way to a near 8 length win in a $51,500 maiden special weight race going one mile at Gulfstream Park. He is part of a legion of talented three-year-olds racing for multiple Eclipse winning trainer Todd Pletcher. Ender Knievel has been working forwardly in preparation for a Sunland Derby. Gil Moutray owned a series of stakes winners in New Mexico through much of the 1990’s. 2011 Kentucky Derby winning rider John Velazquez is his rider.

3.  STIRRED UP (Martin Garcia, 8-1)

Owner: Robert LaPenta.

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-1, $51,520.     

Stirred Up is the second Baffert charge running in the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). The Lemon Drop Kid colt won a Santa Anita maiden event going long on March 3. His owner Robert LaPenta is one of the leading owners in the country. The talented Martin Garcia will ride. 

4.  ISN’T HE CLEVER (Luis Contreras, 4-1)

Owner: Kirk and Judy Robison.

Trainer: Henry Dominguez.

Lifetime Record: 6-4-1-0, $215,960.

Isn’t He Clever ranks as the local powerhouse with commanding stakes record wins in both the $104,200 Riley Allison Futurity and the $150,000 Borderland Derby. The Smarty Jones gelding remains unbeaten over New Mexico soil for El Paso owners Kirk and Judy Robison. Mr. Robison is President of Peter Piper Industries and is currently enjoying a tremendous meet as the leading owner with 12 wins from 38 starters through March 18. After winning his first two career starts at Zia Park, Isn’t He Clever came in a close second in the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park and stamped himself as a player. He parlayed that effort to a near 12 length win in the Allison Futurity. On Feb. 4, the bay gelding moved to the deep waters of Santa Anita Park and finished fourth in the Grade 2 $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes. He set a commanding pace and led for 6 furlongs. The multiple stakes winner showed another dimension by coming from off the pace in the Borderland Derby. The Henry Dominguez trained runner will enjoy a healthy home course advantage in the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). Dominguez won the 2007 WinStar Derby with the classy Song of Navarone. Isn’t He Clever will be ridden by 2010 Sunland Park and 2012 Woodbine jockey champion Luis Contreras.

5, NO SPIN (Channing Hill, 8-1)

Owner: Black Gold Racing.

Trainer: Tim Ice.

Lifetime Record: 7-2-0-1, $80,716.

As a two-year-old, No Spin finished fourth in the prestigious Arlington Washington Futurity. Trained by former Belmont Stakes winning conditioner Tim Ice (Summer Bird), No Spin became a stakes winner on turf with a win in the Royal Glint at Hawthorne Park last October. The Johannesburg colt also ran a good fourth in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. At 3, he is looking to recapture his 2011 form. No Spin is owned in part by Dr. Leonard Blach, co-owner of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Channing Hill is the pilot.

6.  DADDY NOSE BEST (Julien Leparoux, 3-1)

Owner: Mary and Robert Zollars.

Trainer: Steven Asmussen.

Lifetime Record: 9-3-2-1, $233,623.

Daddy Nose Best scored an important win in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate over the synthetic Tapeta course and earned an impressive 92 Beyer figure. Steve Asmussen, the nation’s leading trainer of 2011, has carefully directed the career of the Scat Daddy colt for a run at the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and possibly the Kentucky Derby. Primarily campaigned over the turf as a two-year-old in 2011, Daddy Nose Best was stakes placed in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine and ran sixth out of fourteen runners in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs. With such a strong resume, Daddy Nose Best looms large and should relish the 1 and 1/8 mile distance of the Sunland Derby. Owners Mary and Robert Zollars are highly successful in racing and won the 2011 Borderland Derby with Fusa Code. Two-time Eclipse winning rider Julien Leparoux is his rider.

7. TEQUILA FACTOR  (Miguel Hernandez, 15-1)

Owner: JT and B Racing.

Trainer: C.L Skook Wilson.

Lifetime Record; 10-4-1-0, $122,095.

Tequila Factor ran in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Juvenile. He recently won the Tempe Handicap (March 17) at Turf Paradise over the grass course. The Pure Prize colt ran a distant fourth behind Isn’t He Clever in the Riley Allison Futurity. The long shot appears to prefer turf or synthetic surfaces as opposed to dirt. Sunland’s leading rider Miguel Hernandez gets the call.

8.  JUSTANOLDSONG  (Ry Eikleberry 20-1)

Owner: David Wolochuk.

Trainer: David Wolochuk.

Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-0, $15,900.

Justanoldsong is a very well bred son of Unbridled’s Song. He won his local debut courageously with a late burst of speed. The grey roan colt ran off the board in the $150,000 Borderland Derby. The talented Ry Eikleberry is the jockey.

More From 600 ESPN El Paso