Lady and The Track | December 10, 2022

Scroll to top


Home » News » Sunland Derby; Nine Taking On The Land Of Enchantment

Sunland Derby; Nine Taking On The Land Of Enchantment

Sunland Derby 2014; Nine Ready To Take On The Land Of Enchantment: The 2014 GIII Sunland Derby is set to take place on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 at Sunland Park Racetrack in beautiful Sunland Park, New Mexico. This is a somewhat new race as it was inaugurated in 2003 and is open to 3 year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the dirt with a monster purse of $800,000. The race is sponsored by Winstar Farm of Versailles, Kentucky and is held annually in March. SEE UPDATED RESULTS

Commissioner Horse

Commissioner, pictured above #6 at Gulfstream Park, will break from post position #3 with jockey John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher in the 2014 Sunland Derby wearing blinkers for the first time.
Photo: Coglianese Photos, Lauren King

This is the 12th running of this race, which received it’s (GIII) status from the American Graded Stakes Committee for the first time in 2010. It is an offical Kentucky Derby prep race with points of 50:20:10:5 offered to the top four finishers. The speed record at the current distance of 9 furlongs is held by last year’s winner Govenor Charlie for Bob Baffert in 1:47.54. The record holder at the original distance of 8.5 furlongs is by Excessivepleasure in 2003 in 1:42.84. The most wins by a jockey are 2 for Victor Espinoza and the most wins by a trainer are 2 for Doug O’Neill. The 2012 edition was won by Daddy Nose Best, couldn’t resist plugging a Scat Daddy progeny here.

The 2014 Sunland Derby is set for 5:40 pm, MST and is the 11th race of the day on a card of 12 and it’s in my time zone, yes!

I had a hard time picking one winner out of this group. Pretty tough with Pletcher sending in two and Baffert sending in two, which makes for a pretty salty group of colts. So here we go…..

The not-so-speedy Commissioner is likely to be aided by the potentially fast pace I think will be set by the Baffert duo here. The A.P. Indy/Flaming Heart/Touch Gold colt broke his maiden last summer at Saratoga on August 28th going 9f. Then on January 3rd, 2014 after an almost five month layoff, he beat the top colt, Top Billing, in a 1 1/8 mile Gulfstream allowance race. Last out in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on March 16th, he finished 6th after drawing the rail and falling far off the pace over a speed-favoring track. The Commissioner gains blinkers for the first time Sunday and I’m always a sucker for equipment changes. He recently worked 5f at Palm Meadows in 1:01.45, 4/12 and 4f in 49.35, 30/74. The Commish gets Velazquez up to ride from post #3.

The lightly raced Henny Hughes/Sea Gift/A.P. Indy boy Chitu appears to have a sprinter background with Henny Hughes as his pop but he fooled me last out running second to Candy Boy. So I’m kinda wondering if he won’t carry his speed further again in this race. He recently worked 7f from the gate at Santa Anita on January 17th in 1:24.80, very handily. Since his 2nd place finish to Candy Boy in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII) on February 2, 2014 he’s had 6 works anywhere from one 4f to 7f. In that second place finish going 1 1/6 miles on the dirt, he bobbled after the start, had speed three deep to duel for the lead at the first turn, split between foes at the second turn to take the lead out front in the stretch to battle it out with Candy Boy and lost by a 1/2 length. I was highly surprised he beat his stablemate Midnight Hawk that day. Pretty gutsy run in my opinion. He has a race record of 3:2:1 and breaks from post #9 with Martin Garcia in the irons.

The local boy Rebranded is interesting to me here. He was trained by Todd Pletcher his first four races at Saratoga, Belmont, Parx and Aqueduct but couldn’t break his maiden. The son of Tiznow/Bayou Breeze/A.P. Indy was picked up by trainer Justin Evans and broke his maiden here at Sunland on December 22, 2013. He followed that up with a second place finish in the Mine That Bird Black Type Derby going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt and got nipped at the wire by Proceed who was supposed to run here but didn’t enter. He got a bad ride in that race from the 1 slot and has been working with blinkers on where he recently breezed 5f in 59:00, 1/18 on March 17th. Rebranded exits post #8, just inside of Chitu, with R. Eikleberry in the saddle.

For a long-shot I really like the lightly raced Street Cry/Quendom/Interprete boy Garen for Peter Miller. If he’s taking the time to ship this guy after his recent maiden win going 1 1/16 miles wire-to-wire at Santa Anita on February 17th, he’s gotta think he has a shot. Garen also has some speed and I’m not leaving him off a ticket. He’s a half-brother to the bomb Invasor and recently worked 4f in 47:80, 1/2 at San Luis Rey Training Center. Garen gets Victor Espinoza riding from gate #2.

This looks like a very impressive field with a lot of talent and a ton of speed. With Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert taking up almost half the field, you can’t go wrong with picking one from each to hit.

Kari’s Picks: For the 2014 Sunland Derby I’m looking for the Commissioner to get the win. I like the blinkers added, the post and I think the speed will set up well for him. Chitu could hit the fan if he runs like I think he can, just not so sure from the far post. However, I wouldn’t leave him off a ticket. Rebranded could run huge here and also hit the board. Garen is my sentimental pick and should have nice odds. I also realized 3 of my 4 picks are out of A.P. Indy or one of his daughters. Things that make you go hmmmmm. My play for this race would by a $2 exacta part-wheel with 3,8/1,2,3,7,8,9. Good luck to all and safe ride! Follow Kari

Sigi’s Picks: He always has some killer picks and thoughts so I wanted to add his. He also likes Commissioner to win with Chitu and Bourbonize underneath. We are both tossing Midnight Hawk here, hope we don’t regret it. Sigi always scares me with his picks being so similar to mine, then blows me away this his long-shot. Like when Blingo hit in the Big ‘Cap. Nice ‘cappin Sigi! Follow Sigi

2014 Sunland Derby (GIII) Post Positions & Odds
1. Bourbonize 6/1 R.Vazquez/K.Gorder
2. Garen 10/1 V.Espinoza/P.Miller
3. Commissioner* 7/2 J.Velazquez/T.Pletcher
4. Global Strike 8/1 J.Castellano/T.Pletcher
5. Tanzanite Cat 6/1 N.Arroyo Jr./C.Autrey
6. Lawly’s Goal 20/1 I.Rosendo/K.Eikleberry
7. Midnight Hawk 5/2 M.Smith/B.Baffert
8. Rebranded* 12/1 R.Eikleberry/J.Evens
9. Chitu 4/1 M.Garcia/B.Baffert
*Blinkers on for #3 Commissioner and #8 Rebranded