2015 Sunland Derby Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes a stop in Sunland Park, New Mexico for the Sunland Derby. The race will be on Sunday, March 22. A field of 8 three year olds is entered in the $800,000 race, but only 7 will run with the announcement that Lord Nelson will not take part in the race.

While the massive purse is wonderful by itself, there are also points awarded to the top four finishers in this race. The winner will receive 50 points towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, second place will receive 20 points, third place will receive 10 points, and fourth place will receive 10 points.

The Grade 3 Sunland Derby will be at one eighth and one mile on the main dirt track. Post time is scheduled for 7:40 PM Eastern Time and the Sunland Derby is the 11th of 12 races. Free past performances can be found here.

1. Firing Line (8-5 Morning Line) – The good news for him is that Dortmund is not in this race. Even better news is that he is squarely the one to beat. He was second to start his career and then broke his maiden in his second start. After that win, he was second by a head in back-to-back graded stakes to the aforementioned Dortmund including the Robert B. Lewis on February 7. The other horses in this race will have to be on their “A” game to have a chance.

2. Lord Nelson (3-1 ML) – Scratched.

3. Where’s The Moon (6-1 ML) – He started his career in southern California with three poor performances. A move out here to Sunland Park allowed him to succeed where he finished third in his fourth career race. He broke his maiden in his fifth start by 6 3/4 lengths and then won the Mine That Bird Derby by 2 1/2 lengths. While he clearly likes Sunland, he will need to step up to beat Firing Line.

4. Why Two (8-1 ML) – Another southern California transplant, he fared much better than his counterpart to his left at Santa Anita. He was fourth in his debut and then won his second start by a length and a quarter. His first start around two turns was in the Turf Paradise Derby and he held on for a one length win. He could hang on for a smaller piece in this race.

5. Malibu Mogul (15-1 ML) – His first race was a poor seventh place finish at Fair Grounds, but he has since done very well at Sunland. He broke his maiden by nearly 10 lengths in his second start and then won by a head in his third start. He has not raced beyond 6 furlongs in his career and the blinkers go on for this race. He will be lucky to be around at the end for a small piece of this race.

6. Tiznow R J (5-1 ML) – He began his career with back-to-back third place finishes at Churchill before crushing his foes in his third race by 13 lengths to break his maiden. He then was put in the Grade 3 Lecomte where he finished third after battling for the lead in the stretch. His latest race was the Grade 2 Risen Star where he failed to fire and finished 7th. This race is much softer than the Risen Star, but he will need his best career effort to win.

7. Pain and Misery (6-1 ML) – He debuted at Del Mar with a solid third place finish and was then shipped to Zia Park where he won back-to-back races. His fourth race was back in southern California on turf at Santa Anita. He was second by a neck in a listed stakes race and then tried the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. He was no match for the top horses, as he finished 7th by 15 lengths. He has talent to hit the board, but there are questions about his two turns ability.

8. Dirt Monster (12-1 ML) – Here we arrive at a consistent, but highly untested runner. He finished third in his debut race, which was a listed stakes race at Albuquerque. He then won his first race in his third race and then made it back-to-back wins in his fourth race. His last two races here at Sunland were in ungraded stakes races where he finished third both times. He has a chance to hit the board and could be a long shot possibility if you are looking for value in a race that does not have a lot of that.


#1 Firing Line is squarely the horse to beat and should have no trouble winning this race. The race for place, show, and fourth are a bit more uncertain. #4 Why Two could hang around for a second or third place finish while #6 Tiznow R J will find this bunch a lot easier to contend with. #8 Dirt Monster is a consistent horse (never missed the board in 7 career sorts) and also offers value underneath.

1. Firing Line

2. Tiznow R J

3. Dirt Monster

4. Why Two

Check back on Sunday evening for a recap of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.

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