Stretching back out can help one contender in Sunland Derby

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 26th, 2017

The final 50 points-to-the-winner Kentucky Derby (G1) prep is Sunday's $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), which returns to the schedule after a one-year-hiatus. It's also the final qualifying round race in the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet, thus it's your last chance to pad your total for an opportunity to win Qualifying Round Prizes. More information on the contest and prizes can be found here.

Before next week's Final Round begins with the Florida Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2), let's try and scoop out the Sunland Derby winner among a field of 12. I'm taking a shot with Balandeen (#10, 10-1 ML), who broke his maiden for a tag at Del Mar last summer but subsequently proved to be of better class.

Following up with an allowance win at Churchill, Balandeen next ran a solid second to McCraken, one of the current Derby favorites, in the $83,000 Street Sense, in the process finishing ahead of future Lecomte (G3) winner Guest Suite. Balandeen was a non-threatening fifth in the Delta Jackpot (G3) in is juvenile finale, and then a distant third in the $125,000 Gazebo in his 2017 debut at Oaklawn going six furlongs.

Thinking his last was too short a trip, I'd expect Balandeen to move forward here and possibly excel at 1 1/8 miles. He's by champion sophomore Bernardini and out of Fantasy (G2) winner Mamma Kimbo.