03/20/2013 4:03PM

Sunland Park: Majestic River, Midnight Lucky square off in Sunland Oaks

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Midnight Lucky, trained by Bob Baffert, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Sunland Oaks.

Majestic River will get her first shot at stakes competition Sunday when she lines up against seven other 3-year-old fillies in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks. The 1 1/16-mile race supports the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby and is one of seven stakes on the card.

In all, the races are worth $1.4 million to make for the richest program of the meet at Sunland, the New Mexico track located just next door to El Paso, Texas.

Majestic River flew into Sunland from southern Florida around lunchtime Wednesday, along with her stablemate, Abraham, who will start in the Sunland Derby. Both horses are trained by Todd Pletcher. Majestic River drew post 3 for the Oaks, with John Velazquez to be aboard.

“We’re really pleased with the way she’s started her career,” Pletcher said.

Majestic River won a maiden special weight race at a mile in her debut Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park. She has made one start since, running second in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream. Pletcher noted that the winner of the race, Emollient, is a promising Juddmonte Farms homebred who one start prior to the allowance had run second in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct.

Majestic River, a daughter of A.P. Indy and Tempus Fugit, a four-time stakes winner who earned $344,471, races for the partnership of George Bolton, Barry Lipman, and Natrona Racing Stable.

[SUNLAND DERBY: Get PPs, watch Sunday's full card live]

The 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Sunland Oaks is Midnight Lucky, who won a Santa Anita maiden special weight race with a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. She will break from post 5, with trainer Bob Baffert giving the mount to Rafael Bejarano.

The field from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds, is: Unusual Way, Edwin Maldonado, 7-2; Canticle, Alfredo Juarez Jr., 8-1; Majestic River, Velazquez, 4-1; Fraudulentfootnote, Duane Sterling, 20-1; Midnight Lucky, Bejarano, 5-2; Countess Curlin, Luis Contreras, 5-1; Shesatopattraction, Enrique Gomez, 10-1; and Infinitely, Ken Tohill, 15-1.

The Sunland Oaks is worth 50 points to the winner in the new points system governing preference into the Kentucky Oaks if the May 3 race is oversubscribed. The Sunland Oaks will go as the 10th race on a 12-race program Sunday, with a scheduled post of 5:08 p.m. Mountain. The race also is part of a $50,000-guaranteed, all-stakes pick four that runs from races 8-11.

The sequence begins with the $75,000 Bill Thomas Memorial, a 6 1/2-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and up that drew Isn’t He Clever, the runner-up in last year’s Sunland Derby. The ninth race is the $85,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby at 1 1/16 miles and is followed by the Sunland Oaks and Sunland Derby to close out the pick four.

The day’s stakes action starts in the fourth race with the $75,000 Harry W. Henson Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile. The field is led by stakes winner African Rose, a recent allowance winner at Sunland for Judge Lanier Racing and trainer Justin Evans.

Rose’s Desert will lead the sixth race, the $85,000 La Coneja, a 5 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares bred in New Mexico. The $85,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks at 1 1/16 miles drew multiple stakes winner Back Seat Roll.

Daily Racing Form national correspondent Jay Privman will lead a free handicapping seminar at Sunland on Sunday. It begins at 11 a.m. Mountain in the Signature Showroom. Privman will be joined by Steve Pedigo, the on-air handicapper for Sunland. The seminar will run from an hour to 90 minutes and refreshments will be served, said Dustin Dix, director of racing operations for Sunland.

Daily Racing Form will offer live streaming video of Sunday’s card at drf.com. The forecast calls for sunny skies and wind, with a high of 74 degrees, according to weather.com. First post is 1 p.m. Mountain.