Sunland Park to Shine With $500,000 WinStar Derby

Fueled with revenue from slot machines, the richest live racing season in the historyof Sunland Park Race Track and Casino begins Nov. 19. The 80-day meet, which continues through April 6, 2003, will have all-time record purse distribution of $16 million. Average daily purses at the track just west of El Paso, Texas, should exceed $200,000.

The $500,000 WinStar Derby will be run March 30 as Sunland Park's richest race ever. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds is designed to become an important prep for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) five weeks later. A $250,000 bonus will be awarded to the runner who sweeps the Riley Allison Futurity, the WinStar Derby, and the Lone Star Derby to be run next spring at Lone Star Park.

The 2003 WinStar Derby winner earns a handsome $270,000, the richest first place check in Sunland Park's history. The runner-up receives $105,000. Third place picks up $55,000.

Winners of Sunland Park's Red Hedeman Mile (Nov. 30), Riley Allison Futurity (Dec. 29) and the Borderland Derby (March 2) will receive automatic berths to the WinStar Derby. The remainder of the field will be preferred by lifetime earnings.

The $250,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks will be run March 29. The
mile race for 3-year-olds will be the richest filly race in the history of New Mexico Thoroughbred racing.

Both the WinStar Derby and WinStar Sunland Park Oaks should lure national caliber talent.

The second running of the $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park sponsored by Frontera Training Center takes place Dec. 28. A collection of the nation's finest Quarter Horses, 3-year-old and up will be contested over 400 yards and will be broadcast on ESPN.

New Mexico-bred Thoroughbreds run for $125,000 in the inaugural running of the Red Hedeman Mile on Nov. 30. The $125,000 Johnie L. Jamison Stakes (formerly the Viva El Paso Stakes) is set for Dec. 8. The 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up is named in memory of the legendary trainer.

Live racing will be conducted on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday basis for most of the season. First post time to start the season will be 12:15 p.m. MST. Eleven races per card are planned.

The Sunland Park stakes schedule features 50 races worth $50,000 or more. There will be 25 stakes with purses of at least $100,000.

Here is the list of Thoroughbred stakes races for the upcoming season:

Nov. 22 - The Princess Stakes. $50,000. Two-year-old fillies, 6 furlongs.

Nov. 23 - KLAQ Handicap. $50,000. Three year olds and up, 5 1/2 furlongs.

Nov. 24 - New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap. $125,000. Three year olds and up, fillies and mares, New Mexico-breds, 6 furlongs.

Nov. 30 - Red Hedeman Mile. $125,000. Two-year-olds, New Mexico-breds, one mile.

Dec. 7 - Sunland Park Yuletide Derby. $50,000. Three-year-olds, 6 1/2 furlongs.

Sunday, Dec. 8 - Viva El Paso Stakes. $125,000. Three year olds and up, New Mexico-breds, 6 1/2 furlongs.

Dec. 22 - La Coneja Stakes. $125,000. Three-year-olds fillies. New Mexico-breds, 5 1/2 furlongs.

Dec. 26 - City of Sunland Park Handicap. $75,000. Three-year-olds and up. New Mexico-breds, 1 1/16 miles.

Dec. 29 - Riley Allison Futurity. $150,000. $100,000. Two-year-olds. 6 1/2 furlongs.

January 4 - Bold Ego Handicap. Purse $50,000. Three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5 1/2 furlongs

January 11 - Winsham Lad Handicap. $50,000. Three-year-olds and up one Mile.

January 18 - Pepsi Cola Handicap. $125,000. Three-year-olds. New Mexico-breds, 6 furlongs.

January 25 - La Senora Handicap. $125,000. Three-year-old fillies. New Mexico-breds, 6 furlongs

Feb. 2 - New Mexico State University Stakes. $125,000. Four-year-olds and up. New Mexico-breds, one Mile.

Feb. 8 - Curribot Handicap. $50,000. Three-year-olds and up. 1 1/16 miles

Feb. 9 - Czaria Handicap. $50,000. Three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 6 furlongs.

Feb. 15 - El Paso Times Handicap. $50,000. Three year old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs

March 2 - Borderland Derby. $100,000. Three year olds, one mile.

March 8 - Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap. $50,000. Three year olds and up, 6 1/2 furlongs.

March 9 - Santa Teresa Handicap. $50,000. 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 6 1/2 furlongs.

March 15 - City of Las Cruces Handicap. $75,000. Three-year-olds and up., fillies and mares. New Mexico-breds, one Mile.

March 29 - WinStar Sunland Park Oaks. $250,000. Three-year-old fillies, one Mile.

March 30 - WinStar Derby. $500,000. Three-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles.

April 5 - Harry W. Henson Handicap. $100,000. Three year olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile.

April 5 - Sunland Park Handicap. $100,000. Three year olds and up. 1 1/16 miles.

April 6 - Copper Top Futurity. $200,000 estimated, $130,000-added. Two year olds, New Mexico-breds. 4 1/2 furlongs.