Sunland Derby Picks: Doug O’Neill Seeking Another Derby Contender in Mudflats

A field of nine line up in Sunday's $800,000 Sunland Derby (Photo courtesy of Sunland Park)

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another to victory in the 2012 Kentucky Derby is seeking to have another Derby contender with Mudflats, one of nine entered in Sunday’s Grade 3 $800,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park.

Mudflats came up short in his last start in the Grade 2 San Vicente in a fifth place finish, beaten 2 ½ lengths for the top spot by Shakin It Up, who also makes the trip to New Mexico and is the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Baffert will sent out a pair of runners, also shipping in recent maiden winner Govenor Charlie (6-1), who picked up his diploma at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 17 in his second career start.

And this would not be a legit Derby prep without at least one runner from the loaded Todd Pletcher barn. The five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer will send out recent maiden winner Abraham (4-1), who got his first career victory in the slop at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 16.

Pletcher already has five three-year-olds among the 23 separate betting interests in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closes today.

His runners are Verrazano, Shanghai Bobby, Revolutionary, Overanalyze and Palace Malice.

Not to be outdone, Baffert also has five among the 23: Flashback, Code West, Super Ninety Nine, War Academy and Den’s Legacy.

As of Saturday night there was $127,998 in the future pool with Pletcher’s Verrazano the betting favorite at 6-1. “All Others” is listed at 8-1.

Itsmyluckyday is next in the betting at 10-1, followed by Revolutionary at 11-1 and Vyjack and Orb at 12-1.

The biggest mover when compared to the morning line is Baffert’s War Academy, who was listed at 30-1 and is currently sitting at 16-1.

There is no racing on Palm Sunday at Aqueduct.

Sunday’s Best Plays Report includes my nine strongest plays from Gulfstream Park and Sunland Park.

Let’s head out to Sunland Park for Sunday’s featured race of the day:

Sunland Park Race 11 The Sunland Derby G3 (Post time 5:40 MT)

8 Mudflats   6-1

7 Govenor Charlie   6-1

4 Shakin It Up   5-2

5 Saint Prado   8-1

Analysis: Mudflats ships in for the Doug O’Neill barn and Maldanado is in to ride the colt  after they checked in fifth last out in the San Vicente (G2) in his first start after shipping in from New York. The colt tracked the early pace while three wide, had to steady when caught in between foes just inside the eighth pole and finished evenly, beaten 2  1/2 lengths for the top spot. The fourth place finisher war Academy exited the race to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in March 15 in an impressive effort, earning a 98 Beyer. His only go around two turns was in the Jerome (G3) where he set thee early fractions and faded to finish a well beaten seventh. He has worked sharply since his last outing and he is bred to handle nine furlongs, by Tapit out of a Tale of the Cat mare. It looks as if we should catch a fair price on this guy.

Govenor Charlie is one of two in here sent out by the Bob Baffert barn and will be the higher price of the duo. The colt broke his maiden last out in his second career start going a mile at Santa Anita. The runner up Footbridge came back to graduate in his next outing on March 17. The colt ran second in his debut two back behind repeat winner Let Em Shine, a sharp winner versus Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on March 10 at Santa Anita. The colt is a half to stakes winner Crisis of Spirit, a sprinter who was also trained by Baffert.

Shakin It Up is likely going to be the favorite off his score in the San Vicente last out. Two back in his stakes debut he was a game third, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. He was beaten a neck for the place spot by Super Ninety Nine, who went on to win the Southwest (G3) before tossing in a clunker last out in the Rebel (G2).He has the look of a runner that will be able to handle nine furlongs. The barn is 29% winners moving runners from sprint to route. The main knock is going to be the light price.


WIN: #8 to win at 7-2 or better.

EX: 7,8 / 4,5,7,8

TRI: 7,8 / 4,5,7,8 / 2,4,5,7,8


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