Sunland Park Releases 2015-16 Stakes Schedule

The southern New Mexico track's meet opens December 18.

Sunland Park in southern New Mexico will open its 72-day meet on December 18.

Sunland Park has released its stakes schedule for its 2015-16 meet, which opens December 18.

The track’s stakes schedule features 45 stakes, 29 for Thoroughbreds and 16 for Quarter Horses, worth approximately $5 million. For the 14th consecutive year, the schedule will be topped by the 1 1/8-mile, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), New Mexico’s only graded Thoroughbred stakes. The Sunland Derby will be one of seven Thoroughbred stakes run on Sunday, March 20.

Since its inaugural running in 2003, the Sunland Derby has been a major national prep for 3-year-olds pointed to the Triple Crown races. The New Mexico-based Mine That Bird ran fourth in the 2009 Sunland Derby and won the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs in his next start. Last season, Firing Line won the Sunland Derby in track-record time and finished second to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby in his next out.

Other stakes scheduled for Sunland Derby Day include the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, and two 1 1/16-mile, $100,000 stakes for New Mexico-bred sophomores: the New Mexico Breeders’ Derby (R) for 3-year-olds and the New Mexico Breeders’ Oaks (R) for 3-year-old fillies.

Sunland Park’s Thoroughbred stakes highlights include the 1-mile, $100,000 Riley Allison Derby for 3-year-olds on January 30; the 1 1/16-mile, $100,000 Mine That Bird Stakes for 3-year-olds on February 20; the 1 1/8-mile, $150,000 Sunland Park Handicap for 3-year-olds and older on April 17; and the $150,000-est. Copper Top Futurity (R) for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds on April 17.

Sunland’s Quarter Horse stakes schedule will once again be headlined by the 400-yard, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1) on December 27. The track will also an open stakes for 2-year-olds, as the inaugural running of the 400-yard, $250,000 Sunland Park Juvenile Championship will also take place on December 27.

Other Quarter Horse stakes highlights include the 300-yard, $225,000-est. New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG3) for state-bred 2-year-olds on April 9; and the 300-yard, $200,000-est. West Texas Futurity (G2) on April 16.

Twenty-two of Sunland Park’s stakes will be restricted to New Mexico-breds, 14 for Thoroughbreds and eight for Quarter Horses.

Sunland Park will offer live racing primarily on a Friday-through-Sunday and Tuesday schedule. The lone exception to this schedule is that there will be no live racing on Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day), but there will be live racing on the following Monday, December 28. Post time for the first race will be 12:45 p.m. (MST) from opening day until February 15, and 1:30 p.m. from February 19 through closing day, April 19.

Sunland Park’s barn area will open on November 30, and the track will open for training on December 4.

For more information on the 72-day Sunland Park meet, visit the track’s website at, or contact the racing office at (575) 874-5200.

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