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Dry Summer, above winning at Del Mar, has won both of his starts at Sunland Park and is a top contender in the Sunland Derby. (Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates) 

Homecourt is a powerful edge in any sport, including horse racing.

In Sunday’s Sunland Derby a trio of local standouts – Dry Summer, Stormdriver and Show Some Magic – will face a collection of out-of-town challengers who were enticed to travel to New Mexico by the lure of an $800,000 purse and enough qualifying points to be assured of a place in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.

Whether they are up to that challenge is the key question in handcapping the Sunland Derby.

Dry Summer, Stormdriver and Show Some Magic raced against each other in their last two starts, with Dry Summer winning each time. The son of Any Given Saturday scored a 1 ½-length victory in their last meeting – the Mine That Bird Derby – and is the stickout among the local contingent.

While four of the shippers are coming off maiden wins, the one to fear shapes up as Shakin It Up.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Shakin It Up comes off a win in seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Sana Anita. He hasn’t raced beyond that distance and that’s his main drawback in a race where his superior speed figures to make him the one to beat.

He’ll be asked on Sunday to handle 1 1/8 miles, which might level the playing field with his eight challengers.

Otherwise, Mudflats, who was beaten by 2 ½ lengths in the San Vicente, and impressive Santa Anita maiden winner Govenor Charlie – who also is trained by Baffert – seem the most promising of the visitors.

Yet in the final analysis, what figures to matter most is experience on the racetrack.

Dry Summer has that, plus a perfect 2-for-2 record at Sunland, which could make for a joyful spring day for his backers.

Ehalt’s selections

1. Dry Summer

2. Shakin It Up

3. Govenor Charlie

4. Stormdriver

$800,000 Sunland Derby

Sunday, Sunland Park, Race 11, 7:40 p.m. ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

Just Win Baby (FLA)

A. Quinonez

122

O. Garcia

2

Abraham (KY)

J.R. Velazquez

122

T.A. Pletcher

3

Stormdriver (LA)

R. Eikleberry

122

K. Eikleberry

4

Shakin It Up (KY)

D.R. Flores

122

B. Baffert

5

Saint Prado (KY)

R. Bejarano

122

J. Bonde

6

Dry Summer (KY)

C.D. Madeira

122

J.H. Marr

7

Govenor Charlie (KY)

M. Garcia

122

B. Baffert

8

Mudflats (KY)

E. Maldonado

122

D. O'Neill

9

Show Some Magic (KY)

L. Contreras

122

H. Dominguez

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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