03/11/2010 1:00AM

Nacho Friend heading to New Mexico


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Nacho Friend, the third-place finisher to Awesome Act in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes here March 6, was scheduled to ship to New Mexico on Friday morning to begin preparations for a start in the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 27, trainer Kelly Breen said Thursday.

Breen said he and owner George Hall chose the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby over the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial here on April 3 because they thought it would come up an easier spot.

"The horse that won the race here ran an impressive race," Breen said of Awesome Act. "It was only our first race back, and I think if we can move forward and not have to go against the top 3-year-olds that we can school him into being a top 3-year-old himself."

The Gotham, in which Nacho Friend was defeated three lengths, was the colt's first race since he finished fourth, beaten one length, in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes, a six-furlong race, at Saratoga on July 30.

"He ran a 93 Beyer first time as a 3-year-old, I think that's a pretty good indication we have a top-class horse," Breen said. "Not to say that we're ducking anybody, but there's a whole lot of money [facing] what could not be the favorites for the Kentucky Derby."

Breen said that Joe Bravo, the regular rider of Nacho Friend, would ride the horse in the Sunland Park Derby, a race that also is expected to attract the undefeated Conveyance for trainer Bob Baffert.