03/23/2011 3:13PM

Sunland Derby could provide Fires with second Kentucky Derby prospect in Supreme Ruler


Trainer Jinks Fires already has one 3-year-old in a good position to make the Kentucky Derby in Archarcharch. After the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on Sunday, he hopes to have another. Fires will send out Supreme Ruler in the 1 1/8-mile race, which drew a field of 11 when entries were taken on Wednesday.

Supreme Ruler will break from post 6, while Astrology drew post 11 for what will be his first start since running second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. The field also includes Sinai, who will add blinkers for trainer Bob Baffert, and Nacho Saint and Ruler on Ice, who will race as separate interests for the ownership of Lori and George Hall and trainer Kelly Breen. The Sunland Derby is the richest race of the meet, and part of a program of six stakes worth a cumulative $1.4 million.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

Supreme Ruler shipped to New Mexico on Monday from Oaklawn Park, where his stablemate, Archarcharch, won the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest last month and finished third to The Factor in the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel on Saturday. Supreme Ruler is making his stakes debut after two strong races at Oaklawn, a last-to-first maiden special weight route win Jan. 15, and a runner-up finish by a head in an allowance route Feb. 27.

“We’re hoping to get some money so he’d be eligible to run in the derbies,” Fires said, “like maybe the Arkansas Derby, then hopefully from there, the Kentucky Derby. But if he doesn’t, we’ve also got the Illinois Derby and maybe even the Ohio Derby we can think about.”

Supreme Ruler, who races for Winquest Thoroughbreds, will be ridden by Jon Court. The middle of the road draw suits the horse, said Fires.

“I always like 3-4-5, in that area,” he said. “I don’t like being on the one-hole, because you’re in there too long, and also, if you don’t get away good, everybody comes over on you.”

Julien Leparoux has the mount on Astrology for trainer Steve Asmussen. The horse won the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill last October before finishing second by a half-length in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

The complete Sunland Derby field with riders is Ruler On Ice, Jose Valdivia Jr.; R Skydiver, Alejandro Medellin; Fusa Code, Justin Shepherd; It’s My Party, Martin Bourdieu; Behold de Buy, Ken Tohill; Supreme Ruler, Court; Sinai, Martin Garcia; Nacho Saint, Joe Bravo; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago-Reyes; Beer Meister, Glenn Corbett; and Astrology, Leparoux.

Sinai was fifth to The Factor in the Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita on Feb. 20.

The $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks drew Plum Pretty, who was third in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita in her last start Feb. 5. Baffert has given the mount to Garcia. A field of six will go in the Oaks, which is to be run over 1 1/16 miles. It goes as the eighth race, while the 12th is the Sunland Derby.

In all there will be 13 races, with first post set for 12:45 p.m. Mountain. Sunland, which operates a mixed meet, has carded all of Sunday’s races for Thoroughbreds. The other stakes on deck include the $100,000 Harry Henson for fillies and mares, and three stakes restricted to horses bred in New Mexico.