Updated March 20, 2015
Corrects identity of trainer of Pain and Misery
Firing Line will probably be heavily favored in a field of eight contesting the Sunland Derby on Sunday.
Firing Line, the 8-5 morning line favorite, was a close second to Kentucky Derby future book favorite Dortmund in both the Los Alamitos Futurity and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Firing Line has a stalking style with a high cruising speed and brings about $175,000 in earnings from four career starts into Sunland Park. His owner, Arnold Zetcher, won the 2009 Sunland Park Oaks for Gabbys Golden Gal.
Bob Baffert has won the Sunland Derby three times, including last year with Chitu, and he sends in Lord Nelson, The multiple stakes winning son of Pulpit is the highest earner in the race. He was sharp winning the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes but most recently finished fourth to Dortmund in the San Felipe Stakes.
Steve Asmussen’s Tiznow R J will get another chance after laying an egg in the Risen Star Stakes. In good position at the top of the stretch, he flattened out badly to finish seventh, beaten 11 1/2 lengths.
Pain and Misery, formerly trained by Richard Mandella, runs for the Black Gold Racing led by New Mexico State Racing Commissioner B. Ray Willis and Mine That Bird co-owner Leonard Blach. Henry Dominguez now handles him.
Turf Paradise Derby winner Why Two runs for trainer Michael Machowsky, who won the Sunland Derby in 2009 with Kelly Leak. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle.
The local contingent is led by Mine That Bird Derby winner Where’s The Moon. Trainer Henry Dominguez won this race in 2007, then called the WinStar Derby, with Song of Navarone. Where’s The Moon is owned by Kirk and Judy Robison of El Paso, Texas, who also entered Malibu Mogul. The Robisons were second with Isn’t He Clever in the 2012 Sunland Derby.
Justin Evans, who's been leading the Sunland Park trainer stats for the last three years, will saddle Dirt Monster. The $275,000 auction purchase was third in the Mine That Bird Derby. Evans, 33, is prominent at all five New Mexico tracks and was the third leading trainer in the nation last year with 282 wins.
By Dick Downey