Endorsement won the 2010 Sunland Derby.

Endorsement won the 2010 Sunland Derby.

Coady Photography

$800,000 Sunland Derby Tops New Mexico Meet

Sunland Park's 77-day meet beginning Dec. 10 boasts 30 stakes of $100,000 or more.

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino will distribute more than $19 million in purses during its live horse racing meet beginning Dec. 10 and running through April 19, 2011.

The 77-day meet boasts more than 30 stakes worth $100,000 or more, including Quarter Horse events, and an average daily purse level of $250,000, according to a statement from the track released Dec. 9.

The meet’s highlight is the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) to be run on March 27. The 9th running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep race will be the culmination of a stakes-filled card that day worth more than $1 million.

“Our efforts in making Sunland Park racing a more prominent signal have been successful," said Dustin Dix, director of racing. "We strive daily to continue to increase the exposure and interest in the Sunland Park racing product. Our upcoming season will be loaded with championship level horse racing. Our barn area is brimming with activity, and we are excited about the quality of the new season.”

The lucrative Sunland Derby program also includes the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, the $120,000 La Coneja Stakes, the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap and two races for state-bred 3-year-olds -- the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby and the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks.

Live racing will be held on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday basis for most of the season. Racing on Wednesday, Dec. 22, Thursday, Dec. 23, Wednesday, Dec. 29 and Thursday, Dec. 30 are the only exceptions.

There will be no live racing on Friday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), Saturday, Dec. 25 (Christmas) and Friday, Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve). First post to start the season will be 12:25 p.m. with 11 races per day. Twelve-race cards begin in February.