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Mar 31, 2006

Wide open WinStar Derby expected

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Sunland Park, NM (Sports Network) - The WinStar Derby at Sunland Park has yet to become an important race leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Located just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, the racetrack was hoping that a $500,000 bonus would attract some serious contenders for the Run for the Roses.

The bonus was offered to the owner of the three-year-old that swept the two local stakes races and the Kentucky Derby. Indy Wildcat won the Borderland Derby, but will next run in the Santa Anita Derby.

Saturday"s $600,000 WinStar Derby will have a field of nine with eight betting interests. A Kentucky Derby winner coming out of Sunland Park would equal George Mason making the Final Four.

The fourth edition of the 1 1/8 mile race features Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has Wanna Runner coming from California. The chestnut colt has won two of six career starts for $81,950. He is coming off a fifth place finish in the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows where he was one of the favorites. Wanna Runner ran third in the San Rafael Stakes to Brother Derek in mid-January.

Wanna Runner will be ridden by Victor Espinoza and start from post 5. Owned by Mike Pegram, the colt is 5-2 in the morning line.

Baffert also has Sky Diving set to run Saturday. Sky Diving was second in the Turf Paradise Derby to Keagan and is 7-2 for the WinStar Derby. Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Sky Diving will start from post 1 with Julio Garcia in the saddle.

Keagan will break from post 3 with Scott Stevens coming in to ride from Turf Paradise. Stevens is the brother of Hall of Fame member Gary Stevens. Keagan is 4-1 in the morning line.

The entries Wait in Line and Belligerence are 9-2 in the program. Wait in Line will be ridden by Ken Tohill from post 2 and Belligerence has Quyet Bui riding from the outside post. Wait in Line was second in the Borderland Derby to Indy Wildcat.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out Aventura Stakes winner Doctor Dechard. Coming in from Gulfstream Park, Doctor Dechard is 9-2 in the morning line and will start from post 4 with jockey Shawn Bridgmohan.

The three long shots in post position order are Welfare Cadillac, Blaze It and Might Be Hooked.



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