08/02/2013 3:13PM

Sunland Park Derby tops $3.1M stakes schedule


The Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby will again serve as the centerpiece of the Sunland Park stakes schedule that features 32 races for Thoroughbreds worth more than $3.1 million. The New Mexico track, which also hosts a number of major stakes for Quarter Horses, begins a 76-date mixed meet Dec. 6. The season continues through April 15, 2014.

The Sunland Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race that carried a winner’s value of 50 points toward the Kentucky Derby this year when captured by Govenor Charlie, anchors a March 23 card of seven stakes worth a total of $1.4 million. The program is the richest of the meet. Other key races on the day include the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; the $75,000 Harry W. Henson Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile; and the $75,000 Bill Thomas Memorial for 3-year-olds and up at 6 1/2 furlongs. The remaining three stakes on the card are restricted to horses bred in New Mexico.

The meet’s path to the Sunland Derby begins Dec. 22, with the running of the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity for 2-year-olds at a mile. The other stepping-stone is the $120,000 Mine That Bird Derby at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 22. The local prep for the Sunland Park Oaks is the $50,000 Island Fashion on Feb. 23.

The season’s major Quarter Horse races include the Grade 1, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park on Dec. 29, and the $100,000 New Mexico Challenge on April 6.

Stall applications are due Sept. 22. The stable area opens Nov. 11, with the first date of training Nov. 15.