Sunland Derby 2014: Post Time, Post Positions, Contenders Odds and Schedule

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 21, 2014

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 18:  Bob Baffert, trainer of Preakness Stakes favorite Bodemeister, fields questions from the media at Pimlico Race Course on May 18, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Midnight Hawk is the favorite to win the 2014 Sunland Derby, per Felix Chavez of The El Paso Timesbut legendary trainer Bob Baffert's horse might see stiff competition from Todd Pletcher's Commissioner.

Those two horses have the most attractive odds heading into Sunday's Sunland Derby from Sunland, N.M.

The race is one of the Kentucky Derby preliminaries. The winner in New Mexico will receive 50 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Here's the schedule for the event, the post positions and odds.

 

When: Sunday, March 23 at 7:40 p.m. ET

(Odds per El Paso Times)



PP.
HorseJockeyTrainerM/L Odds
1.BourbonizeRicardo VazquezKellyn Gorder6/1
2.GarenVictor EspinozaPeter Miller10/1
3.CommissionerJohn R. VelazquezTodd Pletcher7/2
4.Global StrikeJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher8/1
5.Tanzanite CatNorberto Arroyo, Jr.Cody Autrey6/1
6.Lawly’s GoalIrwin J. RosendoKevin Eikleberry20/1
7.Midnight HawkMike E. SmithBob Baffert5/2
8.RebrandedRy EikleberryJustin R. Evans12/1
9.ChituMartin GarciaBob Baffert4/1

 

Midnight Hawk Has Been Hot

Baffert's horse already has 32 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. It has won two of its four starts and looks like a horse on the incline. 

Midnight Hawk will be guided by jockey Mike E. Smith. Smith won the Sunland Derby in 2009 aboard Kelly Leak. Per Chavez, Smith said this of Midnight Hawk's development and chances:

"Midnight Hawk is an improving horse. He's been really consistent so far and I think he's got a real shot. I feel comfortable aboard him. He has run against some really good horses and I think he'll adjust to the track in New Mexico just fine."

There are some limitations to Midnight Hawk's overall ceiling. Here's the synopsis on his pedigree from KentuckyDerby.com:

"Midnight Hawk's pedigree does not offer solid encouragement for his ability to handle 1 1/4 miles. Yet a case can be made that there's more than meets the eye."

Baffert personally conditioned Midnight Hawk's parents: Midnight Lute and Miss Wineshine. 

Midnight Lute turned out to be a champion sprinter and there is hope that he passed on his talents.

Per Horse Racing Nation, Midnight Hawk has a horse rating of 7.56. That is the second-highest rating of any horse in the Sunland Derby field. The highest rating belongs to Midnight Hawk's toughest competition, Commissioner. 

 

Commissioner is a Real Threat

Rated at 7.65 by Horse Racing Nation, Commissioner is not to be disregarded on Sunday. Per Mary Rampellini of the Daily Racing Form, Commissioner will be wearing blinkers for the Sunland Derby. Per Pletcher, this could give him the extra concentration he needs to be victorious.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Pletcher told Rampellini:

"We’re just looking for a little more focus. John Velazquez had ridden him last time and thought they might be helpful. We breezed him in them, felt like we noticed a favorable result, and we’ll give them a try.”

With so much at stake for the Kentucky Derby hopefuls, focus will be key for the horses. 

Can Commissioner hold off Midnight Hawk and any unexpected challengers? We'll find out on Sunday.