Two high paying (though ungraded) stakes running on Sunday at Sunland Park, a track I have never bet, so forgive my lack of knowledge regarding track bias, etc.
$600,000 WinStar Derby:
Considering Saturday performances by Officer Rocket and Teuflesberg does not bode well for Forty Grams’ prospects as a Derby threat, but he should go to the lead along with Law Breaker who may run away with this race. However, the likely winner is Song of Navarone who has already run against the best—Ravel and Liquidity—finishing third behind them in the Sham Stakes on February 3. Four horses (Takedown, Jack Hes Tops, Game of Skill, and Congo Bay) ran 1-2-3-4 in the same race at Sunland on February 17, but only Jack Hes Top has run since then, winning a 6-furlong allowance race exactly two weeks ago. He improved his Beyer, but is it too soon to run again? The other question mark is Solemn Promise, in only his second race ever, who won his maiden at 6 furlongs. Can he make the leap to 1 1/8 mile here? Well, his sire Broken Vow produced Cotton Blossom who can run forever, and his mother My Scarlet Angel is out of Chief’s Crown, 1984 Eclipse Juvenile Male who won the Flamingo, Travers, Blue Grass and Swale stakes, finished second in the Preakness, and third in Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Woodward stakes. Answer should be emphatic “yes” and I’m betting he’s part of the trifecta. Probably no serious Derby contenders here...but who knows?
$200,000 WinStar Oaks:
Slew O’Platinum doesn’t seem to be training better since January 20 win in Sun Devil Stakes, and eased up for second in the Arizona Oaks on February 17. Nice Inheritance has won three in a row (including two stakes) and this will be her second race after a layoff. Moreover, Garrett Gomez is new aboard her for Steve Asmussen. I have a “thing” for Smoke Glacken horses, so forgive me if I secretly root for Berriestoheaven, who finished second to Nice Inheritance last time out. However, I think she may be best suited as a 6 to 7 furlong racer. I like Tough Tiz’s Sis, with Victor Espinoza up for Bob Baffert. She doesn’t have stakes experience, but has run distance well, beating Swiss Current twice in recent outings. Aaron Gryder is up for the first time on Swiss Current, who finished second in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies stakes and ran against the likes of Mistical Plan last year. Not sure exactly how they will mix it up, but figure Swiss Current to step up and finish in the tri with Tough Tiz’s Sis and Nice Inheritance.