Sunland Park: How to bet the 2022 Mine That Bird Derby

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 24th, 2022

A well-matched field of eight sophomores will travel 1 1/16 miles at Sunland Park in Sunday’s $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby.

Morning-line favorite #6 Straight Up G (3-1) makes his first trek away from the Golden State, and I feel that he will make good in this event for conditioner Richard Baltas.

The Jungle Racing homebred was unplaced on debut but has improved following that fourth-place finish. The California-bred colt broke through in his second assignment, which was followed by a fine victory in the King Glorious S. in his third lifetime engagement.

The son of Straight Fire missed by a neck last time out in the California Cup Derby, finishing more than three lengths clear of his nearest foe.

Straight Up G has ample early speed, but he doesn’t need the lead in order to be successful. The Richard Baltas trainee figures to be forwardly placed while a close second or third early on, before asserting himself in the stretch. Regular pilot Ricardo Gonzalez comes in to ride, which I view as a big positive.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has a pair entered for the contest, including the Grade-1 placed #7 American Xperiment (4-1). By Nyquist, the $150,000 yearling purchase made his seasonal debut at Oaklawn Park in January going six furlongs and was a game runner-up. The Kentucky-bred bay flashed big early speed, was passed in the lane, but battled on gamely through the wire in a productive seasonal bow.

I envision the colt improving second off the break with the added ground with which to work with under Alfredo Juarez.

#1 Fowler Blue (7-1) has exotics appeal at a price to me from the rail. The California-bred son of Curlin was no match when fourth to Straight Up G in the King Glorious, but he exited that effort with a stylish allowance tally at Santa Anita to cap his two-year-old season.

The dark bay has never run worse than fourth on the dirt in his career, and he has the look as a ‘live’ piece from the rail with Edwin Maldonado coming in to retain the mount.

I could make a case for nearly every other contender in the cast to pick up a minor award, so I will be using the ‘all’ button in the lower rungs of my vertical plays.

Mine That Bird Derby Wagers

  • $10 exacta 6 with 1, 7 ($20)
  • $1 superfecta 6 with 1, 7 with 1, 7 with all ($10)
  • $1 superfecta 6 with 1, 7 with all with 1, 7 ($10)