Sunland Derby Winner Will Qualify for Kentucky Derby
The road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Sunday, March 26 with the $800,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park, a 1 1/8-mile race in New Mexico that offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. This race is worth watching, as some of the horses may run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20.
The race has an abundance of speed from the 12 horses entered, and Sunland Park has a tendency to favor front-runners and speed horses. Trainer Bob Baffert, winner of three of the last four editions of this race, saddles one of the favorites in #3 Bronze Age, who has showed tremendous early speed in his first two races before tiring. He stretched out well when going a mile in modest fractions, and now has to carry his speed an additional eighth of a mile against more front-running pressing challengers. .
Shopping for value and betting #10 Balandeen (10-1) should be worth a wager. Balandeen showed significant potential as a 2-year-old, winning a couple of races at Del Mar and Churchill Downs before finishing second behind Kentucky Derby favorite McCraken in the one-mile Street Sense Stakes. He appeared a bit off in form, but Balandeen, like many others, didn’t take to the Delta Downs surface in the Nov. 19 Delta Downs Jackpot (G3).
Balandeen was freshened, and the second race was the March 4 Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which marked Balandeen’s first race in 3 ½ months. While he could only finish third, the race was clearly a prep for bigger races down the road, and Balandeen even received special permission to continue running past the finish line, essentially turning the race into a “paid workout.”
Now, Balandeen is making his second start off the layoff, and his pedigree suggests that he’ll have no trouble with the distance of the Sunland Derby — his sire (father) is Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini and his dam (mother) is Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes winner Mamma Kimbo. Balandeen is likely sitting on a big effort, and at 10-1 on the morning line, I think he’s worth playing on top and underneath in exotic wagers as well. .
Here’s a thought on how to bet the Sunland Derby for a decent score:
Wagering Strategy on a $32 Budget
$8 to win-place on #10 Balandeen ($16)
$2 exacta: 3,10 with 2,3,10 ($8)
$2 exacta: 3,10 with 4 ($4)
$1 exacta: 3,10 with 11 ($2)
$1 exacta 10 with 3, 12 ($2)
For a larger bankroll, wager a bit more on #10 Balandeen across the board and tie in with these horses in exacta on top and bottom with #10 Balandeen, and in trifeca’s and superfecta (1,2,3,4,5,12)