08/27/2010 4:05PM

Sunland Derby tops 77-day meet


SUNLAND, N.M. – The Sunland Park Derby hit a home run two years ago when it produced Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. The race will again be one of the nation’s richest 3-year-old stakes when the Grade 3, $800,000 race is renewed March 27. The 1 1/8-mile derby is the centerpiece of a 77-date mixed meet that runs from Dec. 10 to April 19, 2011.

The Sunland Derby will lead a card of six stakes worth a cumulative $1.4 million. The $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, at a mile and a sixteenth, and the $100,000 Harry Henson, for fillies and mares at a mile, are among the races that will again be part of the richest program of the meet. Last year, Endorsement won the first graded running of the Sunland Derby, while Harissa accounted for the Sunland Oaks.

There are 32 stakes for Thoroughbreds this meet, with the $100,000 Borderland Derby on Feb. 26 serving as the local prep for the Sunland Derby. The next day, the $50,000 Island Fashion for 3-year-old fillies at a mile will be a stepping-stone to the Sunland Oaks.

Other notable races include the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs Dec. 28; the Grade 1, $350,000 Championship for Quarter Horses at 400 yards Dec.  26; and the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap at a mile and an eighth April 17.

Sunland, which has a slots operation, is just across the border from El Paso, Texas.