Special Kid, a maiden winner in his most recent start at Santa Anita for trainer Doug O'Neill, is the 5-2 morning line choice in a field of 10 3-year-olds entered for the Borderland Derby Feb. 26 at Sunland Park.
The Borderland, traditionally a stepping stone to the Sunland Derby (gr. III), is wide open this year with Texas shipper Expecting Cash, coming off a third-place finish in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen, the 3-1 second choice.
The top finishers from the 1 1/16-mile Borderland are expected to advance to the Sunland Derby, but with its graded status and $800,000 purse, that race figures to draw a number of stronger candidates.
Trainer Bob Baffert has already indicated that The Factor , impressive winner of Santa Anita's San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 20, is pointed to the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby. San Vicente runner-up Sway Away is also nominated.
The 10th race on a New Mexico program of Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing, the Borderland is set to go off at 4:21 p.m. MST.
Special Kid, a Florida-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid owned by S.A.Y. Racing, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight event by a nose in stalking style for O'Neill at Santa Anita Feb. 3. It was the fifth start for the gelding. He drew post 3 and is to be ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes for the first time.
Expecting Cash, owned by Millennium Farms and Little Brothers Farm, broke his maiden in the slop at Hoosier Park Oct. 2 but has lost three in a row since then. In his only start this year, the one-mile Jean Lafitte Jan. 14, the Kentucky-bred Littleexpectations colt was in close contention all the way before losing ground in the stretch and finishing nearly four lengths behind the victorious Decisive Moment.
Ramsey Zimmerman takes the mount on Expecting Cash, who has finished in the money in five of six starts but has only the maiden win. They break from post 2.
It's My Party, a distant second in Sunland's Riley Allison Futurity Dec. 28, leads the local contingent for trainer Chris Hartman. The winner of that race, City Cool, finished last in the seven-furlong San Vicente after pressing The Factor on the front end and tiring. It's My Party, a son of Unbridled Energy owned by Bobby Joe Hammer, returned to win a first-level allowance over one mile at Sunland Jan. 18.
Jorge Martin Bourdieu takes over on It's My Party, who will wear blinkers for the first time and is 6-1 on the morning line.
Also at 6-1 is Southern California maiden Fusa Code, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus who finished third behind Special Kid last time for Asmussen.
The only stakes winner in the field is Behold de Buy, who captured the Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colo., last August. Ken Tohill gets the call on the son of E Dubai who is trained by Joyce Salisbury for Donna Eaton. Fifth in the Allison Futurity last time, he leads the field in earnings with $75,378 and is 20-1.
The runner-up in the Gold Rush Futurity, R Skydiver, was third in the Allison for top New Mexico trainer Henry Dominguez. He is 8-1. The California-bred son of Benchmark , racing for the first time since his debut without blinkers, may set the pace.
Dominguez also entered first-out maiden winner Orion Xpress, who drew the rail and flashed good speed going six furlongs in his debut Jan. 23 at Sunland before drawing off for a two-length victory.
Mason's Pegasus, fourth in the Allison and most recently a first-level allowance winner at six furlongs Jan. 30, drew the far outside post for trainer Greg Green. He is also 8-1.
$100,000 Borderland Derby (Race 10, 4:21 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Orion Xpress (CA), J Ochoa, H Dominguez, 15/1
2. Expecting Cash (KY), R Zimmerman, S M Asmussen, 3/1
3. Special Kid (FL), C Santiago Reyes, D F O'Neill, 5/2
4. It's My Party (KY), J M Bourdieu, C A Hartman, 6/1
5. What the Toccet (KY), I D Enriquez, S Ritter, 20/1
6. Behold de Buy (KY), K S Tohill, J Salisbury, 20/1
7. R Skydiver (CA), M Hernandez, H Dominguez, 8/1
8. Fusa Code (KY), J Shepherd, S M Asmussen, 6/1
9. Carsoncitygambler (KY), C G Zamora, J Zamora, 12/1
10. Mason's Pegasus (KY), A J Juarez Jr. G Green, 8/1
All carry 121 pounds.
Blinkers On: It's My Party, What the Toccet; Blinkers Off: R Skydiver