Morning Line Favorite is 4-1
By Dick Downey
All Out Blitz is in the first post and first position in the morning line as the 4-1 favorite of 12 runners for Sunday’s Sunland Derby.
Trained by Simon Callaghan, All Out Blitz was a runner-up to McKinzie in the one-mile Sham Stakes in January, but he outran eventual Southwest Stakes winner My Boy Jack. That one is entered in Saturday's Louisana Derby. Most recently, All Out Blitz and came in a distant third in the seven-furlong, one-turn Vicente Stakes.
In his maiden win at Los Alamitos last December, the Concord Point gelding beat Bob Baffert's Restoring Hope by a nose. Baffert isn't represented in this year's Sunland Derby.
Callaghan saddled 2015 Sunland Derby winner Firing line, who would go on to finish second to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby. Two-time Sunland Derby winning jockey Martin Garcia will ride All Out Blitz.
Steve Asmussen, a perennial presence in Sunland Park's marquee event, entered New York Central and Dream Baby Dream. New York Central has two wins from four starts, including a hard-fought allowance win on the mud at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19 last time out. The grey roan colt has been working forwardly since then and is rated the 9-2 second choice. Ricardo Santana will ride New York Central.
Dream Baby Dream has some recent Oaklawn Park form with three straight allowance race third place finishes to stable mates New York Central and Title Ready, the latter one finishing fourth in the Rebel Stakes last Saturday, and eventual Risen Star Stakes winner Bravazo. He was a maiden winner at Churchill Downs and uses a late running style. The winning jockey of the 2017 Sunland Derby, Alfredo Juarez, Jr. will ride the 10-1 shot for Asmussen, who trained that winner, Hence.
Prince Lucky represents the Todd Pletcher stable. The Pennsylvania bred son of Corinthian is a restricted bred stakes winner at Parx and is a three-time winner from five starts. The winner of nearly $135,000 has a good looking form line if you throw out his seventh-place finish in the LeComte Stakes. John Velazquez will pilot the 6-1 morning line shot.
Hollywood Star is a threat from the barn of trainer Dale Romans. The Malibu Moon colt was graded stakes placed in both the Iroquois and Saratoga Special last year, then ran split a very distant sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He'll be ridden by 2010 Sunland Derby winning jockey Robby Albarado. Hollywood Star is listed at 6-1 odds.
Romans also sends Jerome Stakes runner-up Seven Trumpets with Luis Contreras up. He's also a 6-1 shot. He didn't show much in the Southwest Stakes on mud, but in his 2018 debut race, he finished second to Firenze Fire in the Jerome Stakes -- also on a muddy track.
Drayden Van Dyke will ride Peace for trainer Richard Mandella. The Violence colt is listed at 12-1 odds. After a disastrous Robert B. Lewis Stakes when he was made 2-1, Peace ran a little better when 44-1 in the San Felipe Stakes won by McKinzie.
Jerry Hollendorfer has Kentucky Derby winning rider Mario Gutierrez to pilot Choo Choo at 8-1 odds. Choo Choo will try to rebound from a fifth-place finish at 2-1 odds in the El Camino Real Derby.
Local hopes rest with Todd Fincher’s Runway Ghost. The Ghostzapper colt was a runway winner of the Riley Allison Derby and finished second to Reride in the Mine That Bird Derby after setting the pace. Tracy Hebert rides him, and he's listed at 8-1 odds.
Here is the field in post-position order:
All Out Blitz – Martin Garcia, 4-1
Dark Vader – Stewart Elliott, 15-1
New York Central – Ricardo Santana, Jr., 9-2
Hollywood Star – Robby Albarado, 6-1
Peace – Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1
Shane Zain – Terry Thompson, 15-1
Prince Lucky – John Velazquez 6-1
Seven Trumpets – Luis Contreras, 6-1
Choo Choo – Mario Gutierrez, 8-1
Dream Baby Dream – Alfredo Juarez, Jr., 10-1
Runaway Ghost – Tracy Hebert, 8-1
Fortified Effort – Ry Eikleberry, 20-1
The Sunland Derby winner receives 50 Kentucky Derby points. Second place earns 20 points. Third place gets 10 points and fourth place earns 5 points.