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2023 Sunland Park Derby Preview & FREE Picks | Baffert Looks For Record 4th Win With Hard To Figure
Hard to Figure (Benoit Photo)

2023 Sunland Park Derby Preview & FREE Picks | Baffert Looks For Record 4th Win With Hard To Figure

Mike previews the 2023 Sunland Park Derby (G3) from Sunland Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this 50-point prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). Trainer Bob Baffert looks to win his record 4th running of this race with Hard to Figure, most recently 2nd in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. Will Tough Luck Bob finally have something go his way for once? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Loaded with rich stakes races, Sunland Park offers some of the most attractive races for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in the Southwest. The $16 million dollar season will dish out over $275,000 in purses per race day.

The sparkling jewel of the lucrative season is the enriched $600,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) to be run on Sunday, March 26, 2023. The Kentucky Derby prep race offers 50 qualifying points to the winner for entry to the 2023 Run for the Roses. The 18th edition of the one and one-eighth mile classic anchors a huge day worth over $1.6 million. The $300,000 Sunland Park Oaks, $250,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby, $250,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks, $120,000 New Mexico State University Stakes, $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes and $100,000 Harry W. Henson Handicap are also part of Sunland Park’s biggest day.

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2022 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner Slow Down Andy catapulted to a tremendous three-year-old campaign. Trained by 3-time Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winning conditioner Doug O’Neill, Slow Down Andy marched his way to victory in the Del Mar Derby (Gr. II) and was stakes placed in the prestigious Awesome Again Stakes (Gr. II) at Santa Anita Park and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Gr. I) at Keeneland. The overachieving son of Nyquist ran boldly against the best sophomores in the country and now has 4 careers wins and earnings topping $909,000.

The 2019 Sunland Derby day program handled an all-time New Mexico State record all-sources handle of over $4.8 million.

The 2022-23 season starts fast and furiously with an excellent opening weekend menu. The $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (Gr. III) will be run on Saturday, Dec. 31. The world’s best Quarter Horses will collide in 21st running of this 440 yard feature. Defending champion Instygator remains razor sharp and is a possible finalist. The $100,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap and the $65,000 KLAQ Handicap will be run for Thoroughbred Sprinters on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.

Lead up races to the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) include the $100,000 Riley Allison Derby at one mile on Sunday, Jan. 29 and the $100,000 Mine That Derby at one mile and one sixteenth on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Prep races for the Sunland Park Oaks are the $65,000 Borderplex Stakes on Sunday, Jan. 29, and the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes at one mile on Sunday, Feb. 26. The Sunland Park Oaks offers 50 points to the winner for entry to the 2022 Kentucky Oaks. Both the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and Sunland Park Oaks will be Lasix-free events. Additionally, all Thoroughbred stakes races will be Lasix-free.