07/17/2007 11:00PM

WinStar Derby once again meet highlight


The $600,000 WinStar Derby on March 16 will be the richest race of the 77-date Sunland Park meet, which opens on Dec. 12. The season will run through April 22, 2008. It will feature racing for both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

The WinStar is one of 29 stakes scheduled for Thoroughbreds. A 1 1/8-mile race, it will share a Sunday card with three other stakes: the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks at 1 1/16 miles; the $150,000 Harry W. Henson Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile; and the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby at one mile.

Sunland, which operates a slots casino, will have a record purse structure when it opens for its 49th season this year. Purses are budgeted at more than $250,000 a day. The track will also introduce Wednesday racing this meet. Sunland plans to race on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 2. It will then return to its traditional Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule.

Other highlights of the stakes schedule include the $150,000 Riley Allison Futurity for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs Dec. 30; the $100,000 Borderland Derby, a 1 1/16-mile prep for the WinStar, on Feb. 16; and the $100,000 Sunland Park Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles April 20.

The premier race for Quarter Horses is the $400,000 Championship for 3-year-olds and up on Dec. 29.