03/07/2016 4:20PM

Sunland Park Derby, Oaks canceled this year, replaced by two new stakes


The Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby and the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks have been replaced on the March 20 card with the $415,000 Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes and the $200,000 Plum Pretty, according to a revised stakes schedule the track provided to Daily Racing Form. The changes need the approval of the New Mexico Racing Commission at its next meeting March 17.

The Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes and the Plum Pretty will be for 3-year-olds, but neither will carry points for the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks, according to spokesman with Churchill Downs. The Sunland Park Derby and Sunland Park Oaks were scheduled to offer their first four finishers Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks eligibility points on a scale of 50-20-10-5.

The Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes will be at 1 1/8 miles, and the Plum Pretty will cover 1 1/16 miles. The distances are the same as the Sunland Park Derby and Sunland Park Oaks. The races will be showcased on a card of seven stakes worth a total of $1.1 million.

Sunland announced late Monday that one of the reasons for the Sunland Derby and Sunland Park Oaks being canceled was to protect "the integrity of the Sunland Derby and the Oaks with regards to graded status and points for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks." The track also noted that the races would be just 11 days out from the date that its quarantine is expected to be lifted, and it wanted to get word out as early as possible to owners and trainers seeking qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

The track was forced to suspend live racing Jan. 23 due to an outbreak of the equine herpesvirus. Racing resumed Feb. 26, and Sunland announced late Friday that the quarantine it has been under could be lifted by the state’s Livestock Board on Wednesday. If lifted, the stable area would no longer be on lockdown, and horses could travel to and from Sunland.

Also on Friday, the commission issued a tentative agenda for its meeting March 17, and in addition to the revised stakes schedule, the panel will consider the approval of four additional race dates for Sunland. The proposed dates are April 22-24 and April 26. The meet is scheduled to end April 19.

There have been 68 individual horses on-site test positive for the equine herpesvirus, according to the Friday release from Sunland. There were five horses remaining in an isolation barn as of Friday. There are about 1,600 horses stabled at Sunland.



Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
California horses have traditionally dominated these Sunland races anyway. This just means that Baffert and last year's second place Derby finisher (Line of David) will have to find other ways to get that "free money." The track had always played too fast on this day anyway. I was surprised that LOD even ran in the Derby (as well as he did run). It caught up with him in the Preakness.
Chas More than 1 year ago
The reality is that no one would probably ship in for the races and/or have already made other plans...and with no racing means no handle and thus Sunland probably hurting $$$$ and to pay out that kind of money would be tough...
Dahorsecapper More than 1 year ago
Churchill should let Hawthorne have the race's now and offer up the same point system