03/21/2012 4:27PM

Sunland: Former rivals Blach, Ice team up with No Spin for Sunland Derby

Tom Keyser
No Spin is among eight 3-year-olds entered for Sunday's Sunland Park Derby.

Leonard Blach and trainer Tim Ice were adversaries during the 2009 Triple Crown series, when Blach co-raced Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Ice sent out Summer Bird to take the Belmont Stakes.

Sunday, the men will be on the same team. No Spin, co-owned by Blach and trained by Ice, is one of eight 3-year-olds set to start in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby. Entries for the 1 1/8-mile race were drawn on Wednesday.

The Sunland Derby is the richest race of the meet and one of seven stakes on Sunday’s card. It will go as the 12th race of 13, with a scheduled post of 5:45 p.m. Mountain. The program includes the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile race in which the undefeated Princess Arabella will meet recent stakes winner Glinda the Good.

Castaway, winner of the first division of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and Daddy Nose Best, who accounted for the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, should vie for favoritism in the Sunland Derby. The complete field from the rail with riders is Castaway, Rafael Bejarano; Ender Knievel, John Velazquez; Stirred Up, Martin Garcia; Isn’t He Clever, Luis Contreras; No Spin, Channing Hill; Daddy Nose Best, Julien Leparoux; Tequila Factor, Miguel Hernandez; and Justanoldsong, Ry Eikleberry.

No Spin vanned out of his Oaklawn base early Wednesday morning headed for Dallas, where he was to catch a flight to El Paso, Texas. El Paso borders Sunland Park, the New Mexico track that was Mine That Bird’s base leading up to the Kentucky Derby. In his final prep for the classic, the horse was fourth in the Sunland Derby.

Ice said it was during the Triple Crown series in 2009 that he came to know Blach. No Spin races for Blach as well as Ray Willis, both of whom are residents of New Mexico. The horse is a son of Johannesburg and began his career at Arlington Park, where he won a maiden special weight in August then ran fourth in the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Futurity.

No Spin proceeded to win an overnight stakes at Hawthorne in October, then was fourth in the $315,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park in December. He comes into the Sunland Derby off a sixth-place finish to Castaway in the Southwest. No Spin, under James Graham, closed from 10th and was beaten six lengths by the front-running winner Castaway to equal his best career Beyer Figure, an 80.

“I thought he ran well,” Ice said. “James said he may have had him too far back, the speed really didn’t come back to him. James also thought the mile might have been too short for him, just needed a little more ground.

“It will be interesting to see him go a mile and an eighth. I do think that he wants more ground for sure. He’s got a good kick to him and I think the further he goes the more he’ll be able to show it.”

Other stakes on the Sunland Derby card include the $100,000 Harry Henson, a one-mile handicap for fillies and mares that drew defending champ Twelve Twenty Two, and the $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial. The six-furlong race drew a handful of local stakes winners as well as the well-traveled maiden mare, Nicky Boy. There are also three stakes on the card for horses bred in New Mexico.

TVG will produce a live, one-hour broadcast covering the Sunland Derby. It airs from 5-6 p.m. Mountain, and the show can also be seen on selected FSN regional networks. In other Sunday activities at the track, retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day will speak in the Mt. Cristo Rey Room at 10:45 a.m., and author Steve Davidowitz will conduct a free handicapping seminar in the Signature Showroom starting at 11 a.m.

Saturday morning, the radio program “Down the Stretch” that is hosted by Dave Johnson and Bill Finley will preview the Sunland Derby card, from 8-11 a.m. Mountain. The show can be heard on Sirius Channel 93.