Updated on 09/17/2011 11:11AM

Spensive one to beat in WinStar

Bob Baffert trainee Spensive will be one of the favorites in Sunday's $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park.

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - Sunland Park created the $500,000 WinStar Derby hoping to lure Triple Crown hopefuls to the desert. While the field of eight does not include any current Kentucky Derby prospects, several in the field could earn their way into more established 3-year-old races with big performances.

Spensive, part of an uncoupled entry trained by Bob Baffert, finished second in the Grade 2 San Rafael and is the likely favorite in the 1 1/16-mile WinStar. Other top contenders include Apalachian Thunder, fourth on turf in the Grade 3 Baldwin for Baffert last time out; Mr. Decatur, winner of the Borderland Derby here for trainer Steve Asmussen; and California Breeders' Championship winner Excessivepleasure, who finished a neck behind Mr. Decatur in the Borderland Derby. Sum Trick, winner of the Riley Allison Futurity, is eligible for a $250,000 bonus if he wins this race and the the May 10 Lone Star Derby.

Spensive closed well to be beaten a length by Rojo Toro in the San Rafael, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. He has drawn the outside post for the WinStar, but jockey Gary Stevens should be able to tuck in behind the speed horses to his inside before entering the clubhouse turn and pick up the leaders in the stretch.

Apalachian Thunder won a one-mile allowance at Santa Anita Jan. 24, earning a 97 Beyer. In the Baldwin, at 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's downhill turf course, he weakened to finish fourth after stalking a 43.40-second half-mile. He will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela, who began his career here at Sunland a quarter-century ago.

"These two horses are a notch below the best ones out here right now," Baffert said from California on Friday, "which makes the WinStar a good place for them to step up."

Mr. Decatur, a stalker, showed a determination he lacked early in his career when beating Excessivepleasure in the Borderland Derby. Corey Lanerie will ride.

The Borderland was the first attempt around two turns for Excessivepleasure, who ran well despite acting up in the paddock and being carried wide on the first turn. Trainer Doug O'Neill has named Pat Day to ride Excessivepleasure, who is expected to improve off the Borderland.

Sum Trick was sent to Rafael Becerra in California after his Riley Allison victory and finished second behind Kafwain in the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven furlongs. He weakened in the stretch of the one-mile San Rafael in his next start. Sum Trick has been back in the Sunland barn of trainer O.D. Jamison for three weeks. Mike Clark rides.

The dark horse in the race is Overflight, who remains untested after winning both of his career starts by large margins sprinting at this meet for trainer Bart Hone. Sunland's leading rider, Jorge Bourdieu, has the mount.

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