SUNLAND PARK — There is a lot of hype surrounding Rebranded, the morning-line favorite in today's $120,000 Mine That Bird Derby, the featured race at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino and the final prep race for next month's $800,000 Sunland Derby.
The hype is well-deserved.
But where there is hype, there is also hidden talent. And it may be wise to consider all your options in today's featured race on a strong 11-race program that begins at 12:55 p.m.
Rebranded drew the inside post for the Mine That Bird Derby, named for the shocking winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby who campaigned in New Mexico prior to his stunning run at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Tony Pennington and now in the barn of leading trainer Justin Evans, Rebranded was winless in four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher on the East Coast, including a notable third-place performance in his career debut at Saratoga behind Strong Mandate and Tapiture, considered by many to be among the leading candidates on this year's Kentucky Derby trail.
Still a maiden, Rebranded was shipped to Sunland Park, where he made an instant splash last year, breaking his maiden when winning the $104,000 Riley Allison Futurity under jockey Ry Eikleberry, who has the mount again in the 10-horse field.
A Kentucky-bred son of Tiznow that cost $350,000 as a yearling purchase, Rebranded has the pedigree and the potential to be a good one, and he is a deserving morning line favorite for the 1 1-16 mile Derby.
It may be Proceed, however, who stands in the way of Rebranded's road to Churchill Downs.
Proceed, undefeated in two starts for the same connections that brought us Peppers Pride, is nothing to ignore.
A New Mexico-bred son of Desert God, Proceed was a devastating maiden winner at Sunland Park last November before a notable trip win over this same course in the Red Hedeman Mile.
Owned by Michael Stinson and trained by Joel Marr, Proceed may lack the same black-type pedigree of his most significant rival, but he will pose a major threat as the second choice on the morning line for the Mine That Bird Derby.
From a pace standpoint, Proceed figures to have an early advantage. He will be up close to what could be a moderate pace under jockey Alfredo Juarez, Jr. Rebranded may have to get involved in the race a bit earlier that he'd like from his inside post.
Both runners have been prepped exceptionally well leading up to the Mine That Bird Derby, showing strong workouts for their connections.
The field for the Mine That Bird also contains two other recent stakes winners, including Alsono, a two-time stakes winner and the leading money earner in the field.
Also trained by Evans, Alsono has two sprinting stakes wins at Zia Park last year and last month at Sunland Park. Scheduled to be ridden by Irwin Rosendo, Alsono's lone effort around two turns was a non-threatening third behind Rebranded in the Riley Allison Futurity.
Cloud Harbor, off the board in his last two starts for trainer Henry Dominguez, was a winner of last year's Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park in Colorado last summer. He was well-beaten by both Alsono and Rebranded in his most recent efforts.
Post time for the Mine That Bird Derby is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. The 2009 Kentucky Derby winner will lead the field onto the racetrack in the post parade for the race.
Next month, Mine That Bird will be the subject of a major motion picture chronicling his meteoric rise to fame. The film, which opens nationally in April, will be shown exclusively in theaters throughout the state of New Mexico later next month.
The field for the Mine That Bird Derby, from the rail out, with riders and post positions, looks like this: Rebranded, Eikleberry, 3-1; Lawly's Goal, Jose Beitia, 5-1; Proceed, Juarez, Jr., 4-1; Cloud Harbor, Aldo Arboleda, 6-1; Alsono, Rosendo, 5-1; Ima Happy Strike, Nancy Summers, 12-1; Postor, Larry Gamez, 15-1; Got Your Back, Dusty Shepherd, 10-1; DE Lover, Brian Theriot, 8-1; Alex In Motion, AJ Martinez, 10-1.