03/19/2010 11:00PM

Sunland Derby field taking shape

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Will Kenser/Coady Photography
Conveyance, winner of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn last time out, is one of eight probable starters expected for Sunday's Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby.

Conveyance is one of eight early probables for the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on Sunday, March 28. The race will be the richest of six stakes worth a cumulative $1.4 million on the card. Also on the program, which is the most lucrative of the meet, is the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks.

Conveyance won the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest last month at Oaklawn for trainer Bob Baffert. Other probables for the Sunland Derby, which is being run as a graded race for the first time, include Tempted to Tapit, who was second in the Grade 2 Risen Star last month at Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Klesaris.

The Sunland Derby also is expected to draw Classical Slew, who was third in the Grade 2 San Vicente last month for trainer Doug O'Neill; Storming Saint, who was placed first in the $100,000 Borderland Derby last month at Sunland for trainer Henry Dominguez; Fog Alert, the fourth-place finisher in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby for trainer Steve Sherman; Noah's Dream, a first-level allowance winner at Laurel for trainer Graham Motion; Endorsement, who races for WinStar Farm and is trained by Shannon Ritter; and Guiltybyassociation, a local for high-percentage trainer Todd Fincher.

"This is a quality, solid field going first time for a Grade 3," said Mike Shamburg, the racing secretary at Sunland. "Everybody here is pleased. Last year was a pretty good year for the Sunland Derby. It turned out very well. We can only hope for a repeat."

Mine That Bird, who finished fourth to Kelly Leak in the race, returned in his next start to win the Kentucky Derby. In addition, Mythical Power, who was second in last year's Sunland Derby, and Advice, who was fifth, both came back to win graded stakes in their next starts. Mythical Power won the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby, and Advice won the Grade 2 Lexington.

Shamburg said there are a few other horses looking at the Sunland Derby, which will be run over 1 1/8 miles. He said a plane bringing Florida-based horses is due to arrive in New Mexico on Tuesday. The plane from California is scheduled to arrive Wednesday. Entries for the Sunland Derby will be taken Wednesday.

Shamburg said the Sunland Park Oaks field could include Ellafitz and Harissa, who finished one-two in a first-level allowance at Santa Anita on March 4. Baffert, who won the Sunland Oaks last year with Gabby's Golden Gal, trains Ellafitz. Harissa is from the barn of trainer David Hofmans.

Queen Greeley, who won the local prep for the Sunland Oaks, the $50,000 Island Fashion, is set to go for Fincher.

Also on the card is the $100,000 Harry Henson for fillies and mares at a mile, a pair of route stakes for 3-year-olds bred in New Mexico, and a $125,000 stakes for older New Mexico-bred fillies and mares. Sunland set a track record for handle last year on the Sunland Derby card, with $2,690,130 bet on the 13-race program from all sources.