2023 Sunland Park Derby Odds & Betting Picks

The Kentucky Derby trail winds through New Mexico on Sunday, when the G3 Sunland Park Derby offers 50 RTKD points to the winner and features a mouthwatering tactical clash between G3-placed Hard To Figure and front-running 15-length stakes winner Henry Q.


Sunland Park Derby

G3, $600,000, 1m 1f dirt, 3yo, 4.45pm MT

There are relatively easy pickings on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Sunland Park Derby at the little New Mexico circuit on Sunday, with just six runners competing for qualifying points on a 50-20-15-10-5 basis, potentially giving the winner a free pass into the Run for the Roses.

Potentially, because the morning-line favourite is ineligible for Churchill Downs as he’s trained by Bob Baffert, but the scratch of the fancied Fort Bragg may shake things up on the tote board.

As things stand, Hard To Figure (2-1) is a worthy favourite as he brings solid stakes form to the table, beginning with an easy sprint stakes win at Los Alamitos in September, and building upon that at Santa Anita last time when runner-up in the mile-sixteenth G3 Robert B. Lewis, beaten just a neck after a final-furlong duel.

That is better bare form than anything his rivals can muster, and Robert B. Lewis third Worcester may enhance it further when he runs in the G2 UAE Derby at Meydan on Saturday; Hard To Figure will get a stalking trip and will be hard to beat in a race his trainer has won a joint-record three times.

But he faces a tough rival in the shape of Henry Q (3-1), who broke his maiden at the third try over seven furlongs at Santa Anita, and then produced an incredible performance on his stakes debut here last month.

He went gate-to-wire over a mile-sixteenth and drew right off in the final furlong to win by 14 and three-quarter lengths, with Wild On Ice (20-1) another six lengths back in third. It wasn’t a particularly strong race, and Henry Q was on Lasix there and runs clean today, but no-one could quibble with the visual impression. It’s tough to tie it in with Hard To Figure’s form but, in the context of this race, Henry Q could be something special.

More track form comes through One In Vermillion (6-1) and How Did He Do That (9-2), who filled the exacta in a mile stakes here in January, separated by a length after One In Vermillion went coast-to-coast and How Did He Do That rallied but couldn’t catch him. Wild On Ice was last of nine runners.

One In Vermillion is bidding for a four-timer now and may move up again, and is taken to confirm the placings with How Did He Do That, who had previously run fifth in a stakes at Oaklawn Park, never a factor behind the talented Victory Formation.

Low Expectations (6-1) makes his stakes debut after two narrow wins at Santa Anita over a mile, most recently in a four-runner starter optional claimer. This could be a step too far too soon.

2023 Sunland Park Derby Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
How Did He Do ThatAlfredo J. Juarez, Jr.+450
Low ExpectationsMario Gutierrez+600
Fort BraggJuan J. Hernandez+400
Henry QEdwin A. Maldonado+300
One in VermillionHarry Hernandez+600
Hard to FigureFlavien Prat+200
Wild On IceKen S. Tohill+2000

It was impossible not to like the way HENRY Q tore up the track here last time, and this exciting front-runner can take the rise in class in his stride.

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