Over $1.5 million in purses will be offered on Sunland Derby Day – Sunday, March 24, 2019. The 16th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (GR III) at one and one-eighth miles will be the richest and most important race of the meet for three-year-old thoroughbreds seeking a berth in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The winner of the Sunland Derby (GR III) receives 50 critical qualifying points for entry into the Kentucky Derby. A record crowd of 19,081 fans came to witness the 2015 edition of the Sunland Derby (GR III).
The 2015 Sunland Derby (GR III) winner, Firing Line, ran second to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Sunland Derby (GR III) winners Hence (2017), Chitu (2014), Governor Charlie (2013), Daddy Nose Best (2012) and Twice the Appeal (2011) all ran in the Kentucky Derby. In 2009, Mine That Bird parlayed a fourth-place finish in the Sunland Derby to a victory in the Kentucky Derby at 50-1 odds.
In addition to the Sunland Derby (GR III), the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, $100,000 Harry W. Henson Handicap, $100,000 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap, $100,000 New Mexico State University Stakes, $100,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks and $100,000 New Mexico Breeders’ Derby will help propel Sunland Park’s biggest live racing day on March 24.