Here are the latest candidates for the Sunland Derby (Gr. III):


Owner: Mary and Robert Zollars.

Trainer: Steven Asmussen.

Lifetime Record: 8-2-2-1, $113,623.

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 has been his regular rider.


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 atGulfstream 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 has been his rider.


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 35 starters through March 10. 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, and responded brilliantly for jockey Alejandro Medellin. 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.


Owner: Gem, Inc.

Trainer: Martin Jones.

Lifetime Record: 5-1-3-0, $87,700.

This fast closing Northern Afleet gelding arrived at Sunland Park for the $150,000 Borderland Derby with an extensive Santa Anita background. Trained by Martin Jones, Zackn’m at had been toughened by four strong maiden races in Southern California. On Dec. 30, he produced a fast closing second behind Kentucky Derby hopeful Fed Biz. On Jan. 29, the dark bay colt rocketed past his rivals in a $56,000 maiden race at Santa Anita going 7 furlongs. The consistent stretch runner brought his “A: game to Sunland Park in the $150,000 Borderland Derby on Feb. 25, and he finished a good second to the local star Isn’t He Clever. He found his best strides a bit too late but was 9 lengths in front of the third place finisher. The one and one-eighth mile distance of the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) will help this one. Additionally, he gets the benefit of having a race over the local oval.


Owner: Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman.

Trainer: Bob Baffert.

Lifetime Record: 5-4-1-0, $518,990.

Secret Circle is a lightning fast three-year-old colt by Eddington with a sparkling resume. In 2011, he roared to victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Bob Baffert’s exceptional pupil followed that effort up with a game second to Out of Bounds in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. On Feb. 20, he ventured out to Oaklawn Park and won the second division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes going two turns. The sophomore was able to handle the route well and finished with determination. Secret Circle would be the first Breeders’ Cup winner to ever run at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. His record stands at 4 wins from 5 starts with earnings over a half million dollars. Co-owner Mike Pegram won the 2006 Win Star Derby with Wanna Runner. He also owned champion Real Quiet who won both the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Karl Watson and Paul Weitman were co-owners of 2007 Sunland Park Oaks winner Tough Tiz’s Sis who later became a graded stakes champion.

Sunland Derby


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.


Owner: Zayat Stables.

Trainer: Bob Baffert.

Lifetime Record: 2-1-1-0, $44,800.

The son of Empire Maker showed plenty of run in an impressive maiden win at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 11. He earned a strong Beyer in the high 90’s and is quickly gathering in momentum for a stakes assault. We haven’t seen the peak from this royally bred three-year-old colt. Out of the Storm Cat mare, Untouched Talent, Bodemeister’s potential could be extremely high. A win in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Grade III) would give him a berth in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Baffert indicated on March 8 that Bodemeister replaced Fed Biz in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (Gr. 2) on March 10 at Santa Anita. He raced as the 3-1 second choice in the morning line. Rafael Bejarno has been his regular rider.


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 Leonard Blach, co-owner of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.


Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc.

Trainer: Bob Baffert.

Lifetime Record: 3-2-0-0, $71,100.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Fed Biz was a $950,000 yearling purchase in 2010. He is a son of Giant’s Causeway with 2 wins from 3 starts. After rolling through impressive maiden and allowance victories at Santa Anita, Fed Biz “tied up,” or experience stomach cramps on March 5 and was withdrawn from consideration for the San Felipe Stakes. Baffert said, “I had a little setback with him, not bad, through. It’s nothing serious. I don’t know if he got cast or what. He tied up a little on me. We’ll see how he works.” The $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) could become his next option on March 25. Rafael Bejarano has ridden him in all three career starts. As of March 9, Fed Biz was ranked #6 on the Daily Racing Form Kentucky Derby watch list.


Owner: George and Lori Hall.

Trainer: Kelly Breen.

Lifetime Record: 8-2-4-1, $301,000.

Owners George and Lori Hall won last year’s Belmont Stakes (Gr. I) with Ruler and Ice. The Roman Ruler gelding prepared for the Triple Crown with a fast closing third in the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). The Halls have another talented sophomore in My Adonis. The son of Pleasantly Perfect has shipped long distances campaigning in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York. He rocked to a 5-length win in the $200,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs. After finishing off the board in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (Gr. III) last November, My Adonis rebounded this year with a stakes placed efforts in both the $400,000 Holy Bull (Gr. III) and the $400,000 Gotham Stakes (Gr. III) behind the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen. Trainer Kelly Breen has actively supported the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) for several years.

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