Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park - PICKS: 6-4-2-1
Today we head out West to Sunland Park in Sunland Park, New Mexico for the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The short field of 5 will go to gate for race 9 on the 10-race card with an approximate post time of 6:36 p.m. ET.
#6, Jungle Runner, Luis Contreras, 4-1 - Jungle Runner will add blinkers for the first time after two straight out of the money finishes, including an eighth-place finish in his last in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 24. A start prior, he finished fourth in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park on Dec. 15. He previously won his first two starts at Remington Park highlighted by a 1 ¼ length win as the second betting choice in the Clever Trevor Stakes on Nov. 1. Luis Contreras, who looks for his second stakes win here for trainer Steve Asmussen, I think he makes a big jump up today. Let’s see how the blinkers suite him. The pick.
#4, Sir Rick, Francisco Arrieta, 2-1 - The morning-line favorite has literally done nothing wrong since a fifth-place finish in a maiden special weight debut at Lone Star Park on July 19. Since then he has won three of his last four races plus a third-place finish in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on Nov. 23. In his last, he won by an impressive 5 ¼ lengths as the third choice in an allowance optional claiming race at Sam Houston on Jan. 18. He has had five weeks to rest so he enters today in stellar form. There is a lot to like. Runner-up.
#2, Stackin Silver, Heriberto Figueroa, 3-1 - After a seventh-place finish in her maiden special weight debut at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, Stackin Silver responded with two straight wins in a maiden claiming race at Del Mar on Nov. 15 and in his last, a starter optional claiming race at Santa Anita on Jan. 25 by an impressive 5 ½ lengths as the favorite. Heriberto Figueroa has the mount for trainer Richard Baltas. Contender.
#1, Top Draw, Elvin Gonzalez, 6-1 - Top Draw has some experience over Sunland’s surface having raced here in his last two starts, finishing third in an allowance race on New Year’s Eve and a fourth-place finish in his last in the Riley Allison Derby on Jan. 26. He is looking for his first win since a triumph in a maiden special weight race at Zia Park on Dec. 16. Could surprise and I expect an improvement since his last start. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco