03/16/2013 1:38PM

Sunland Derby expected to attract full field of 12

Benoit & Associates
Shakin It Up, the winner of last month's seven-furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita, is expected to start in next Sunday's Sunland Derby.

Shakin It Up and Titletown Five are among the early probables for the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby on Sunday. The field for the 1 1/8-mile race was starting to take shape Saturday, with entries to be drawn Wednesday.

“The Sunland Derby looks to be a full field,” said Dustin Dix, director of racing operations for Sunland.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Dix said the maximum the gate can hold is 12.

The Sunland Derby is the final 50-point prep race on the new system governing preference into the Kentucky Derby if oversubscribed. It also is the richest race of the Sunland meet and anchors a card of seven stakes worth $1.4 million. The program includes the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.

Dix said a flight bringing horses from Florida is scheduled to arrive in New Mexico on Wednesday, with a plane from Southern California due in Thursday.

Shakin It Up, who is based at Santa Anita, won the Grade 2 San Vicente there in his last start Feb. 17. David Flores has the mount in the Sunland Derby, according to the horse’s trainer, Bob Baffert.

Titletown Five, who was an individual betting interest in the second pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, will have one more work at his Oaklawn Park base, then van to Sunland, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday. Gary Stevens has the mount on Titletown Five, whose ownership includes Hall of Fame football players Paul Hornung and Willie Davis.

“I’m going to ship, I think, on Wednesday,” Lukas said.

Dix said others probable for the Sunland Derby include Dry Summer, Show Some Magic, and Stormdriver, who finished a respective first, second, and third in the local prep, the $120,000 Mine That Bird Derby, on Feb. 23.

Others whom Dix has under consideration for the Sunland Derby include Overanalyze, the Grade 2 Remsen winner trained by Todd Pletcher; Wildcat Moon, the runner-up in the $100,000 California Derby in January; Persuasive Paul, the winner of the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby; Mudflats, the fifth-place finisher in the San Vicente; and maiden winners Abraham, Demonic, Just Win Baby, and Saint Prado.

Another possible is Govenor Charlie, a recent maiden special weight winner at Santa Anita with a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

The Sunland Derby is scheduled to go as the 11th of 12 races Sunday, with a post of 5:40 p.m. Mountain, said Dix. The race is the final leg of a $50,000-guaranteed, all-stakes pick four that begins in the eighth race.

Countess Curlin possible for Oaks

Countess Curlin, who is unbeaten around two turns, is being considered for the Sunland Oaks, said trainer Steve Asmussen. The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-old fillies. Countess Curlin won the local prep, the $50,000 Island Fashion.

“If everything goes well, there’s a possibility of running Countess Curlin back in the Sunland Oaks,” said Asmussen, who trains Countess Curlin for her breeder, Stonestreet Stables. “She’s a filly that’s continued to develop, and we’re very proud of her, being a Curlin, and hoping she has a big future.”

Countess Curlin has won 3 of 4 starts, with all of her wins coming at a mile, by a combined margin of 13 lengths.

Others whom Dix has under consideration for the Sunland Oaks include Unusual Way, a multiple stakes winner for trainer Jeff Bonde, Shesatopattraction, Cruzette, Infinitely, Majestic River, and Midnight Lucky, who won a maiden special weight sprint at Santa Anita with a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

The Sunland Oaks is worth 50 points to the winner on a new system governing preference into the Kentucky Oaks.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman