Sunland Park, 9th Race - March 18, 2007
Song of Navarone stamped himself as a plausible fringe contender for the Kentucky Derby by racing off to a 1 1/2-length victory Sunday in the showcase race at Sunland Park, the $600,000 WinStar Derby.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Song of Navarone put away the 9-10 favorite, Forty Grams, before holding off Solemn Promise in the fifth running of the WinStar Derby. The victory was the third in five career starts for Song of Navarone, a Kentucky-bred son of Sultry Song. He returned $6.20 to win as second choice in a field of seven 3-year-olds.
The WinStar Derby lost its morning-line favorite when Bob Baffert scratched California invader Law Breaker. Baffert said the colt "tied up," or suffered from muscle cramps, following a routine gallop Saturday morning at Sunland.
Owned by George Coleman and based at Sunland with trainer Henry Dominguez, Song of Navarone was making his first start since finishing third behind Ravel and Liquidity as the pacesetter in the Feb. 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Forty Grams, ridden by Garrett Gomez, was prudently rated on the early lead while Jack Hes Tops and Song of Navarone raced in close pursuit. Midway through the far turn, as Jack Hes Tops began to tire, Song of Navarone drew even with Forty Grams while farthest outside of the threesome. Down the stretch, Song of Navarone steadily edged clear while Solemn Promise, a WinStar-owned colt making just his second career start, closed belatedly from sixth to get second, another 5 1/4 lengths before Forty Grams. The rest of the field finished far behind.
Song of Navarone finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.53 over a fast track. Because the WinStar is not a graded race, none of the winner's share of $300,000 will be credited toward his bankroll in regard to eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. The 20-horse field for the Derby is decided by graded earnings.
The WinStar Derby was one of four stakes run on easily the richest program of the season at Sunland Park.
Sunland Park, 8th Race - March 18, 2007
Tough Tiz's Sis wins Oaks
Tough Tiz's Sis ($4), with Espinoza aboard, took over from Lauras Last Music before proceeding to a 3 3/4-length triumph in the $200,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks.
Tough Tiz's Sis, making her stakes debut, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.18 for her third win from six career starts. Baffert trains the 3-year-old Tiznow filly for the Watson or Weitman Performances LLC.
Eyes on Eddy romps in Henson
Eyes on Eddy ($4) romped to a 6 1/2-length victory under Gomez in the $144,750 Harry W. Henson Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares. Eyes on Eddy, a 5-year-old Touch Gold mare, was winning for the first time in three starts since Stonestreet Stables purchased her last November at Keeneland for $400,000. She is trained by Steve Asmussen.
* Genes Boy ($33), ridden by Ken Tohill, wore down Z Z Dome in the final yards to post a narrow victory amid a full field of statebred 3-year-olds in the $100,000 New Mexico Breeders' Derby