By Dick Downey
On Saturday at Sunland Park, the Borderland Derby will have seven runners, led by Isn't He Clever and Zackn'mat.
Isn't He Clever, runaway winner of the Riley Allison Futurity winner, returns to the scene of that win after setting the pace and fading to fourth in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4.
Isn’t He Clever is unbeaten in three starts in New Mexico. Last November, he was shipped to Remington Park and ran second in the Clever Trevor Stakes. That was followed by his 12-length win of the Riley Allison. The Smarty Jones gelding was timed in 1:15.10 for 6 1/2 furlongs, breaking the stakes record. The Borderland is 1 1/16 mile.
Alejandro Medellin gets the mount back in the Borderland Derby after Corey Nakatani rode Isn't He Clever in the Lewis. Medellin has won twice on Isn’t He Clever, the 2-1 morning line favorite.
On Feb. 18, Isn't He Clever breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 (2/21) at Sunland.
A stable mate to Isn't He Clever, So Far So Fast, at 6-1, is a Cuvee gelding that has looked good winning twice at Sunland Park. Local jockey Enrique Portillo Gomez, who has been riding well, will be in the saddle.
Zackn'mat ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Marty Jones. He was last seen winning a $56,000 maiden race going seven furlongs on Jan. 29. The Northern Afleet colt finished second to Fed Biz on Dec. 30 at Santa Anita. Hector Berrios will ride the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
Tequila Factor, fourth in the Riley Allison, ran in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but finished fourteenth. He's 5-1.
Local maiden winner Justanoldsong (6-1), Strong Resolve (15-1), and the Steven Asmussen trained Major Hope (6-1) round out the field.
This year’s Borderland Derby carries a purse of $150,000, up $50,000 from last year.