Asmussen holds top pair in Sunland Derby

The Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Derby offers 12 three-year-olds 85 Kentucky Derby points this Sunday.  Sunland Park’s annual keystone event, the Sunland Derby will be contested at 1 1/8-miles over the main track. It goes as the 11th of 12 races, with an approximate post time of 7:15 p.m. EST. Some noteworthy riders will make the trip for Sunland’s stakes-laden card, so study this race carefully if you’re playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#10 DREAM BABY DREAM (10-1) offers good value in a wide-open renewal of the Sunland Derby. He was last seen running third in an allowance race at Oaklawn behind fellow Steve Asmussen trainee NEW YORK CENTRAL. DREAM BABY DREAM finished over two lengths behind that rival but steadied early and raced wide on a day that played favorably to inside runners. He adds blinkers today and picks up a bit more ground, both of which should aid his cause. He should also get an honest pace to close into. Sharp local jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. has the call.

#3 NEW YORK CENTRAL (9-2) showed grit dueling inside a rival to win an Oaklawn allowance last time out but may have been aided by a track bias. Now he’ll go an extra 1/16th, and that may not be to his liking based on dam-side pedigree. That being said, NEW YORK CENTRAL must still be respected on speed figures and has a potent jockey-trainer combo in Ricardo Santana Jr. and Asmussen behind him.

#1 ALL OUT BLITZ (4-1, morning-line favorite) completely misfired in the San Vicente last time out. It’s possible he ‘bounced’ off a big effort in the Sham, where he was second to top Derby contender McKinzie. If ALL OUT BLITZ can replicate his Sham performance while stretching back out (which his pedigree says he can handle) he could justify his morning-line favoritism. Martin Garcia climbs aboard for the first time off a tremendous tune-up work for Simon Callaghan.

#11 RUNAWAY GHOST (8-1) gives the locals a puncher’s chance in the Sunland Derby. He won January’s Riley Allison Derby convincingly before taking second in the highly-rated Mine That Bird Derby to Reride. He’ll likely be one of several looking for the lead under regular pilot Tracy Hebert.

The play: $2 exacta box 1/3/10, $3 win 10 ($15)

DFJ analysis: Martin Garcia has just two mounts but they’re both win-eligible and he’s available at a low salary. Garcia will be aboard Faypien (4-1) in the Harry Henson Handicap before getting a leg up on favored ALL OUT BLITZ in the Sunland Derby.

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