Govenor Charlie Sets Track Record in Sunland Derby
By Dick Downey
The track was fast, extraordinarily fast, at Sunland Park as Govenor Charlie, a maiden winner, took the Grade III Sunland Derby in track-record time. He broke a mark in place for over 50 years.
The 6-5 favorite, Govenor Charlie was one of two Bob Baffert trainees in the race.
Saint Prado took the lead up the backstretch, closely followed by Abraham and Govenor Charlie. Those two moved up to flank the pacesetter, with Abraham on the inside after breaking from post 2. The quarter-mile had gone in :22.74 and the half in :46.22.
Approaching the far turn, Abraham stuck a neck in front, but Saint Prado fought back, and Govenor Charlie wasn't about to back down. With six furlongs in the books in 1:09.96, longshot Show Some Magic made a wide move, and the four of them hit the far turn heads apart.
Govenor Charlie got away from the field leaving the turn, and Show Some Magic's momentum carried him into second. They finished that way, with Govenor Charlie prevailing by five lengths. Abraham stayed on for third, beaten 8 1/4 lengths for it all.
Shakin It Up nosed out Stormdriver for fourth, with Mudflats, Saint Prado, Dry Summer and Just Win Baby rounding out the order of finish.
The final time of 1:47.54 set a new track record for 1 1/8 mile, eclipsing Winsham Lad's and Prenupcial's 1:48 1/5 set in 1961 and 1962, respectively.
It was the third track record of the day. Earlier on the card, Isn't He Clever broke the 6 1/2-furlong record, and Midnight Lucky set the 1 1/16th-mark in 1:41.02 winning the Sunland Oaks by eight lengths for Baffert.
Govenor Charlie was Baffert's second Sunland Derby winner. The trainer took the race in 2006 with Mike Pegram's Wanna Runner. Pegram bred and owns Govenor Charlie, a son of Midnight Lute. The colt is out of Silverbulletday, by Storm Cat, and was bred in Kentucky.
With the win, Govener Charlie picked up 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, presumably enough to get him in the Derby starting gate -- if that's what Baffert decides to do. Govenor Charlie was unraced last year. He broke his maiden in his second start when he took a one-mile maiden special weight at Santa Anita with a gritty effort on Feb. 17.
Show Some Magic wasn't early-nominated to the Triple Crown. The deadline for late nominations was the day before the Sunland Derby, and that list is expected to be released the following day. He'll have 20 points if he was nominated. Abraham picked up 10 points, and Shakin It Up got five. None of the four had Derby points before the race.
The Sunland Derby finishes up a series of Kentucky Derby preps worth 85 Kentucky Derby points with 50 going to the winner. Starting on Saturday, the outcomes increase to 170 points, with 100 to the winner, in the Grade I Florida Derby, Grade II Louisiana Derby and Group 2 UAE Derby.
Martin Garcia: “I was in really good position. The best thing was that I was outside. The best place was outside.”