This year, Baffert ships Hal and Patti Earnhardt III's Law Breaker from Santa Anita to the outskirts of El Paso, Texas for Sunday's nine-furlong race for 3-year-olds.
The WinStar Derby, run for the fifth time at Sunland Park, funds it's rich purse in large part from West Texas native Bill Casner, co-owner of WinStar Farm, who sponsors the race, and the slot machines that are legal in the state of New Mexico. Despite its hefty purse, the race is not graded, so none of the earnings are counted toward a potential date in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 5.
Baffert's runner, a son of Silver Deputy—Such Flair, by Kingmambo, enters the WinStar off just a neck defeat to Noble Court in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 10. In his previous start, Jan. 19, Law Breaker used a stalking trip to win an entry level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. Aaron Gryder makes the trip to Sunland to ride Law Breaker, who was bred in Florida by Carolin Von Rosenberg DVM.
Law Breaker drew post seven in the eight horse field.
Baffert has had a runner every year in the WinStar: Spensive and Apalachian Thunder ran two-three behind Excessivepleasure in 2003; Consecrate and Teton Forest ran second and sixth, respectively, behind Hi Teck Man in 2004; and Sort It Out was third to Thor's Echo in 2005. He then hit the exacta last year with Wanna Runner and Sky Diving.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has a pair for the WinStar in Takedown and Forty Grams. Takedown, a son of Point Given, won the $100,000 Borderland Derby Feb. 17 at Sunland Park. The 1 1/16-mile WinStar prep was run in 1:44.64 with even-money favorite Jack Hes Tops running second. Jack Hes Tops returns off a six-furlong sprint win at Sunland March 4. Forty Grams comes in off a strong third behind Teuflesberg and Officer Rocket in the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Feb. 19. Fog City Stable and George Bolton's son of Distorted Humor ran off to a 13-length score in an allowance race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 29.
Trainer Henry Dominguez has an intriguing entrant in Song of Navarone, a New Mexico-based colt who ran third behind Ravel and Liquidity in the nine-furlong Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita in his lone 3-year-old start Feb. 3. After breaking his maiden at Zia Park in October, Song of Navarone won a trial race, then ran second in the $136,499 Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland on New Year's Eve going 6 ½ furlongs. He worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 2/5 March 10.
The WinStar Derby goes as race nine on a card that includes the $200,000 WinStar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, the $100,000 Harry W. Hanson Breeder's Cup Handicap for older runners at a mile; and the one New Mexico Breeders Derby for state-bred 3-year-olds.
WinStarDerby, $600,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, Sunland Park, Sunday, March 18, approx. post 6:45 EDT
PP - Horse - Jockey
1 - Takedown - Glen Murphy
2 - Solemn Promise - Mark Guidry
3 - Congo Bay - Ricardo Jaime
4 - Forty Grams - Garrett Gomez
5 - Jack Hes Tops - Alfredo Juarez
6 - Song of Navarone - Victor Espinoza
7 - Law Breaker - Aaron Gryder
8 - Game of Skill - Ken Tohill