Updated on 09/17/2011 2:06PM

Rocky Gulch ready for open company


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - A field of eight to 10 is expected when entries are drawn Thursday morning for Sunday's $100,000-added , Sunland's key prep for the $500,000 WinStar Derby, to be run March 28. Among the WinStar hopefuls is a mix of ship-ins looking for an easy payday and a group of locals yet to sort themselves out.

Among the Sunland-based horses, New Mexico-bred sensation Rocky Gulch is the most intriguing. Rocky Gulch will be making his first out in open company after establishing his dominance against statebreds. Trainer Terry Walker has managed Rocky Gulch's career prudently, and Rocky Gulch doesn't appear to have any excuses coming into the race. Rocky Gulch has trained brilliantly since his last start, the Jan 17 Pepsi Cola Handicap, and most recently worked six furlongs in 1:12 on February 17. In his six starts, Rocky Gulch has just one loss, a decidedly green effort in last April's Copper Top Futurity.

Steve Asmussen will send at least one horse to the Borderland, Korbyn Gold, who went off as the 6-5 choice in the Riley Allison Futurity but put in a dull effort, finishing sixth. Asmussen assistant Tony Mathiasen said Korbyn Gold has been freshened since then and worked six furlongs in 1:15.40 on Feb 15 in preparation for Sunday's race.

Another prospect who could make a name for himself in the Borderland is Grande's Grandslam, whom trainer David Carroll will send in from Fair Grounds. Owned by Sunland Park track owner Stan Fulton, Grande's Grandslam did little to impress in his initial two races in Kentucky last fall, but he has come around nicely for Carroll since stretching out to two-turn races this winter in Louisiana. Grande's Grandslam won his maiden by over nine lengths in his last out, on Feb. 1, indicating his best races are in front of him.