Undefeated Cajun Pepper will make his 3-year-old debut by leading a dozen sophomores to the gate for Sunday's $100,000 Borderland Derby, going 1 1/16 miles at Sunland Park. The Borderland Derby is the final local prep for the April 2 $500,000 WinStar Sunland Park Derby.
The Borderland will mark the first time Colorado-bred Cajun Pepper has gone beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.
The son of Barricade ended his juvenile campaign a perfect five-for-five, including two races restricted to Colorado- breds, with an average win distance of just more than five lengths.
Cajun Pepper's biggest win came in the Dec. 26 Riley Allison Futurity, where he scored by 4 1/4 lengths at Sunland.
Leading Sunland Park trainer Ramon Gonzalez conditions the colt for his breeder Harry Veruchi and Eli Diamant.
Cajun Pepper will break from post one under jockey Ken Tohill carrying a co-highweight of 122 pounds.
While all eyes will be on Cajun Pepper, California-shipper Dover Dere should attract a lot of attention.
Also carrying 122 pounds, Dover Dere enters the Borderland off a third-place effort in the Jan. 15 Golden Gate Derby for trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Jason Wood.
Jockey Omar Figueroa has the mount aboard Dover Dere.
O'Neill sent out Excessivepleasure to win the inaugural running of the WinStar Sunland Park Derby in 2003. He prepped for that race by running second in the Borderland Derby.
Dover Dere, a Florida-bred son of Cherokee Run
, won the Gold Rush Stakes going a mile as a juvenile.
Another local horse to watch could be Voronin, who finished second behind Cajun Pepper in the Riley Allison. Joel Marr conditions the Florida-bred son of Top Account for Mike and Mary Kindred.
Carlos Madeira returns to the saddle aboard Voronin carrying 118 pounds.
The field for Sunday's $100,000 Borderland Derby includes:
1-- Cajun Pepper (Ken Tohill, 122)
2-- El Batallon (Donnie Meche, 118)
3-- Voronin (Carols Madeira, 118)
4-- Southern Africa (Garrett Gomez, 118)
5-- Proud Ringer (Perry Whetstone, 116)
6-- Tudor Needed (Glen Murphy, 116)
7-- Dover Dere (Omar Figueroa, 122)
8-- Western Act (Clark Jones, 116)
9-- Leverage (Joe Martinez, 116)
10-- Takin Issue (Stan Ning, 116)
11-- Quiet Money (Alfredo Juarez, 116)
12-- Thor's Echo (Corey Nakatani, 116)