Garrity's Sunday Sunland Park Stakes Picks: New Mexico Breeders, Oaks, and Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep race

Garrity's first post is 4:43 pm EDT.
Racing at Sunland Park.
Racing at Sunland

We are headed out West today, to Sunland Park in Sunland, New Mexico, where the Sunland Derby, a Kentucky Derby prep, headlines the biggest card of the year in the Land of Enchantment.

We have plays in three of the day’s races, all stakes, and we expect fast dirt in all three. Let’s go.

Sunland Park, Race 6, 4:43 pm ET

$250,000 New Mexico Breeders Derby, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, New Mexico-bred 3-Year-Olds

A dozen state-breds line up for a big purse in the New Mexico Breeders Derby. The pick is 11-Sambas Mark, whose finished third in the Red Hedeman Mile Stakes in his last start. We think that was a deceptively good effort, as finished eagerly despite running very wide throughout. We think he gets a better trip today, which will produce a better result. Look for him to be midpack early, and rolling late. We will bet him to win at 6-1. The bet: Sunland Park, Race 6, $40 to win on 11-Sambas Mark.

Sunland Park, Race 8, 5:41 pm ET

$300,000 Sunland Park Oaks, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies

The Sunland Park Oaks drew a field of seven sophomore fillies. Bob Baffert starts one of them, 4-Doinitthehardway, who has abundant speed, so much, in fact, that we think she is going right to the front and staying there all the way around the track. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Sunland Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Doinitthehardway.

Sunland Park, Race 10, 6:45 pm ET
Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby, 1 ⅛ miles, Dirt, 3-Year-Olds

A field of seven lines up for the Sunland Park Derby. The winner gets 40 points in the Kentucky Derby qualifying system, enough to gain entry to the race, so there’s a lot on the line here. That explains the prevalence of horses shipping to New Mexico from Southern California: The thinking is that a horse who may not be good enough to compete with the best colts based at Santa Anita might be able to earn a trip to Louisville with a good performance here.

The pick is a colt who fits this description: 3-Fort Bragg, who finished behind stablemate Practical Move in each of his last two starts. He has some speed, which will help him get a good position early, but what makes us like his chances here is that he has good late-pace figures, which means he should be finishing strongly at the end of the race. We think that will be the difference in a race whose early pace should be very fast, which will play against the speed horses and favor runners with his stalking style. We will bet him to win at 4-1. The bet: Sunland Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-Fort Bragg.

That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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