03/08/2013 6:21PM

Titletown Five eyeing Sunland Derby

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Tom Keyser
Titletown Five is being pointed to the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby on March 24.

Titletown Five, a promising 3-year-old for trainer D. Wayne Lukas who finished second in the $60,000 Gazebo in his seasonal debut at Oaklawn on March 2, is possible for the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 24. Lukas said another option for the horse is the Louisiana Derby on March 30.

“I’m strongly considering the Sunland Derby if his next two works fall into place like I think they will,” Lukas said Friday.

Lukas said part of the appeal of the Sunland Derby is its timing in comparison to the timing of the Louisiana Derby a week later.

“It gives me an option to get back in a 100-point race at some point,” Lukas said Friday.

Titletown Five, who was one of the most impressive maiden special weight winners last year at Churchill Downs, has not yet run in a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby. This year, there is a points system in place that governs preference into the Kentucky Derby if it is oversubscribed. The Sunland Derby is worth 50 points to its winner.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Titletown Five races for a partnership that includes Hall of Fame football players Paul Hornung and Willie Davis.

◗ Optimizer, the Oaklawn-based runner who has won back to back Grade 3 turf stakes at Fair Grounds, is due to return to New Orleans later this month for the Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, Lukas said. The Grade 2, $400,000 race run at about 1 1/8 miles on the grass is on the Louisiana Derby undercard March 30. Lukas plans to run Channel Isle in the Louisiana Derby.