08/15/2006 11:00PM

WinStar Derby to be run earlier

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The $600,000 WinStar Derby will be run March 18, 2007, about two weeks earlier than it was this year, and be part of a $500,000 bonus series. The WinStar Derby is the richest race of the Sunland Park meet, which opens Dec. 15 for 79 days of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. The meet runs through April 29.

There are 29 stakes scheduled for Thoroughbreds at Sunland Park in New Mexico. The earlier date of the WinStar Derby positions the race as the kickoff leg of a bonus series that also comprises the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby. The owner of a horse who can sweep all three races will earn a bonus of $500,000.

Sharing a card with the WinStar Derby are the $200,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks; the $150,000 Harry W. Henson Breeders' Cup for fillies and mares; and the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby.

The $100,000 Borderland Derby on Feb. 17 is the local prep for the WinStar.

The $175,000 Riley Allison for 2-year-olds is scheduled for Dec. 31. The $200,000 Copper Top for New Mexico-bred juveniles is set for April 28.

Purses at the meet are expected to average more than $230,000 a day. Sunland plans to race on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays for most of the meet. The biggest stakes for Quarter Horses is the $400,000 Championship on Dec. 30.