Bob Baffert: trains Sunland Derby pair Castaway and Stirred UpPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Coolmore's Castaway bids for Kentucky spot
Preview: USA, Sunday 12.45am (Mon) GMT (live on ATR)
Sunland Park: Sunland Derby (Grade 3) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
WITH a total purse of $800,000 on offer, merely finishing second in the Sunland Derby might well be enough to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby field, which is determined by graded-stakes earnings.
Indeed, Mine That Bird could finish only fourth here before a famous 50-1 success under Calvin Borel at Churchill Downs.
The big guns have been rolled into New Mexico for Sunday's contest, headed by the Bob Baffert pair Castaway (Rafael Bejarano) and Stirred Up (Martin Garcia).
Front-runner Castaway, who breaks from the inner, represents the Coolmore team and comes here with a victory in a division of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn under his belt.
Stirred Up, a $420,000 Keeneland September yearling, won a maiden at Santa Anita on March 3.
Baffert is joined at Sunland by heavy-hitting colleagues Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, who saddle Daddy Nose Best (Julien Leparoux) and Ender Knievel (John Velazquez) respectively.
Daddy Nose Best touched off UAE Derby hope Lucky Chappy in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate while Ender Knievel was a wide-margin maiden winner at Gulfstream in February.
Aiming to spare the blushes of the locals in aneat little race is Borderland Derby winner Isn't He Clever (Henry Dominguez/Luis Contreras).
Also on Sunday
Santa Anita: San Luis Rey Stakes (Grade 2) 1m4f, turf, 4yo+ (10.03pm GMT)
FORMER British-trained Slim Shadey (Simon Callaghan/David Flores) bids for his second Grade 2 success since being switched Stateside by owner Phil Cunningham.
He had Bourbon Bay (Neil Drysdale/Joel Rosario) back in fourth in the San Marcos Stakes on his last start but that rival should strip fitter here and has a record of five wins out of seven on the Santa Anita turf.
Santa Anita: Santa Ana Stakes (Grade 2) 1m1f, turf, 4yo+ f/m (11.36pm GMT)
Former Sir Michael Stoute-trained Strawberrydaiquiri (Ben Cecil/Mario Gutierrez) has her second start since arriving in the States, having led in the stretch before weakening to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Buena Vista a month ago
"She definitely needed it," Cecil said. "I thought she was going to win the Buena Vista turning for home, but she just got tired. She blew for like an hour after the race, so she should improve."
Rivals include Buena Vista winner City To City (Jerry Hollendorfer/Corey Nakatani) and Grade 1 winner Cambina (Jeff Bonde/Garrett Gomez), who badly needed the run there.