Kentucky Derby 2012 hopeful Castaway, a visually impressive winner of the slower division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb 20, takes on seven rivals in Sunday’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby (race 12) at Sunland Park.
#1 Castaway (2-1) and his talented stablemate Secret Circle invaded Arkansas and left with graded glory in both divisions of the Southwest. Secret Circle returned to Oaklawn Park and landed the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes last weekend.
Now, Castaway visits New Mexico for trainer Bob Baffert in hopes of earning a nice chunk of graded cash for a possible engagement on the first Saturday in May.
Castaway, a well-bred son of Street Sense, took six tries to break his maiden, and he graduated in style over wet-fast footing at Santa Anita Park in January. He followed up his easy maiden tally over Holy Candy with another win in the G3 Southwest and figures in the think of things throughout from the inside post on Sunday. Rafael Bejarano rides again.
Baffert also conditions #3 Stirred Up (8-1). The late striding son of Lemon Drop Kid flees the speed conducive Santa Anita Park oval and would appreciate contested fractions. The recent graduate beat sharp next out winner Holy Candy last time will be ridden by Martin Garcia.
#2 Ender Knievel (6-1) is on the upswing for Todd Pletcher. The promising son of Distorted Humor, out of an AP Indy mare, raced for George Arnold in Kentucky and Florida last year and improved his numbers each time. Pletcher took over the training duties and he responded immediately with a romping flat mile maiden win at Gulfstream Park on Feb 5. John Velazquez with pilot the fresh, prominent throughout threat.
#6 Daddy Nose Best (3-1) exits a game nostril victory over UAE Derby hopeful Lucky Chappy in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Steve Asmussen’s versatile son of Scat Daddy has been competitive on dirt, turf, and synthetic, and should be finishing under regular rider Julien Leparoux.
Local hope #4 Isn’t He Clever (4-1) is 4-for-4 in the state of New Mexico and smartly captured the local prep for this (Borderland Derby). The gelded son of Smarty Jones projects a tactical journey under new rider Luis Contreras. He is 2-for-2 at Sunland.
#5 No Spin (8-1) was last seen finishing 6th behind Castaway in Hot Springs. The Tim Ice trainee is 0-for-4 on dirt and appears better on turf/synthetic.
#7 Tequila Factor (15-1) easily captured a minor turf stakes affair at Turf Paradise March 17. He failed to threaten Isn’t He Clever in a pair of local starts and appears most effective on turf/synthetic at this stage of his career.
Lightly raced colt #8 Justanoldsong (20-1) colt broke his maiden in a local flat mile event Jan 31 and was a well-beaten 6th in the Borderland Derby last time. He is overmatched on numbers.
$20 to win #2 Ender Knievel
$5 Exacta #2 Ender Knievel over #3 Stirred Up and #6 Daddy Nose Best ($10)
$5 Exacta #3 Stirred Up and #6 Daddy Nose Best over #2 Ender Knievel ($10)