An impressive maiden winner at Fair Grounds in Louisiana will take on seasoned New Mexico-based stakes winners in the $100,000 Borderland Derby Feb. 29 at Sunland Park.
The Borderland Derby serves as a local prep for the $500,000 WinStar Derby March 28. That same day, New Mexico-bred 3-year-olds will battle in the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby.
Stan Fulton's Grande's Grandslam, trained by David Carroll, won a one-mile maiden special weight event by 9 1/4 lengths Feb. 1 at Fair Grounds in his 2004 debut. In his previous start, the Grand Slam colt finished second, a length behind Breakaway in late December at the New Orleans track.
Jose Martinez Jr. is named to ride at 117 pounds in the 11-horse field. Grande's Grandslam, bred in Kentucky, is listed as the 8-1 co-fourth choice in the morning line.
The morning-line favorite is Hassel and Bonnie Spraberry's Hi Teck Man, who won an allowance race Feb. 10 at Sunland but last year won two stakes in New Mexico: the A.C. Kemp Handicap at Albuquerque and the Ruidoso Thoroughbred Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. He also finished second in the Riley Allison Thoroughbred Futurity at Sunland in 2003.
Texas-bred Hi Teck Man, by Claudius, is trained by Johnnie Nall and will be ridden by Ricardo Jaime at 121 pounds.
New Mexico-bred Rocky Gulch, five-for-six in his career, won the state-bred Pepsi Cola Handicap at Sunland in his last start Jan. 17. Last year, Rocky Gulch, owned by Larry Teague, won three restricted stakes--the Red Hedeman Mile Handicap and Copper Top Futurity at Sunland, and the Rio Grande Senor Futurity at Ruidoso.
Rocky Gulch, by Dry Gulch, had no trouble with the distance when he won the two-turn Red Hedeman Mile by 3 1/2 lengths. As a 2-year-old, he set the track record of 1:02 for 5 1/2 furlongs at Ruidoso in the Rio Grande Senor.
Terry Walker trains Rocky Gulch, and Michael Clark is named to ride at 121 pounds.
Trainer Steve Asmussen has Korbyn Gold, a Kentucky-bred by Gold Case
, ready to make his 2004 debut in the Borderland Derby. Owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Korbyn Gold won the Middleground Breeders' Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park and the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Arlington Park last year.
Perhaps his best effort to date came in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) last November at Churchill Downs. He finished second, beaten 7 3/4 lengths, behind The Cliff's Edge, whose currently on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. In his only start around two turns--the 1 1/16-mile Sam Houston Texan Juvenile Stakes--Korbyn Gold finished second to America America.
Ken Tohill is named to ride Korbyn Gold at 121 pounds.
Here's the field, in post-position order, with jockeys and weights:
1 Mr Gil Alfredo Juarez Jr. 116 pounds
2 Rocky Gulch Michael Clark 121
3 Go Kitty Go Miguel Fuentes 116
4 Rollicking Caller Casey Lambert 117
5 Mark Of Diablo Sal Gonzalez Jr. 117
6 Western Ridge Jorge Bourdieu 119
7 Hi Teck Man Ricardo Jaime 121
8 Grande's Grandslam Jose Martinez Jr. 117
9 Spanish Highway Frank Gonsalves 117
10 Willionaire Perry Whetstone 114
11 Korbyn Gold Ken Tohill 121
The Borderland Derby is the 11th race on a 12-race program. Post time is scheduled for 4:55 p.m. MST.