Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino are getting ready for major horse racing action on Sunday, 29 March 2009. It is the running of the seventh Sunland Derby, and besides for this exciting event have a lucrative purse amount as incentive, a little bonus has been added to the race, in hope of luring bigger names in the racing industry to the Sunland Derby. Unfortunately, the bonus will not come into effect this year, but it is almost certain the new changes will attract the attention of the horse racing industry.
The Sunland Derby, even though the greatest efforts have been made, is not a graded race. Officials of the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino have been trying for years to get the race graded, to no avail. This however has not stopped them to offer $800 000 as prize money, and the new bonus, states that should a horse who has previously won a Grade 1 event, win the Sunland Derby, an extra $200 000 will be added, potentially increasing the prize money to $1 million. Should a graded stakes winning horse walk away victorious on Sunday, the purse will increase by $100 000. This means that if one of the four graded winners, which are Kelly Leak, Mark S the Cooler, Advice or Mine That Bird win, they win $500 000. If any other horse wins, their winnings will be $400 000.
A few well-known trainers have entered their horses into the Sunland Derby this year, such as Steve Asmussen and Bob Baffert. Baffert has entered Mayor Marv and Mythical Power, while Dumar will be racing for Asmussen. The twelve horse field, in their respective post positions and odds, are as follows: Valid Stripes (15-1), Santamonicacanyon (12-1), Advice (6-1), Dumar (12-1), Mayor Marv (7-2), Scorewithcater (6-1), Mythical Power (10-1), Kelly Leak (4-1), Mine That Bird (8-1), Infernal (20-1), Mark S the Cooler (12-1) and Smokin Legend (20-1). Many horses that have won the Sunland Derby have gone on to accomplish great things, and it is hoped that on Sunday, another future horse racing legend will be victorious. Hopefully one day, this amazing racing event will receive the recognition it deserves, and rise to ranks of a graded race.