Tipsheet: 2022 Sunland Derby & Meet the Contenders

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 25th, 2022

Tipsheet by John Mucciolo, Meet the Contenders by Vance Hanson

A field of eight three-year-olds will run 1 1/8 miles on the dirt in Sunday’s $500,000 Sunland Park Derby (G3). The 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event will reward the top-four finishers with qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 basis towards the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Sunland Derby Picks

  • #4 Slow Down Andy
  • #5 Bye Bye Bobby
  • #8 Straight Up G
  • #2 Classic Moment

Sunland Derby Wagers

  • $15 exacta 4 with 2, 5, 8
  • $1 superfecta 4 with 2, 5, 8 with 2, 5, 8 with all

Sunland Derby Contenders

#1 COSTA TERRA (8-1) has yet to make an impact from a pair of graded stakes tries to date for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Gun Runner colt checked in an even fourth in a recent allowance tilt at Oaklawn Park, and he will need a big step forward to challenge for the upset in this cast.

#2 CLASSIC MOMENT (7-2) is the second from the Asmussen shedrow and exits a decent third-place showing in the Mine That Bird S. on the oval last time out. The $350,000 son of Classic Empire has improved his early presence since adding blinkers two back, and he figures to sit a nice trip while forwardly placed early on Sunday. Joel Rosario riding the top-three contender is a major bonus.

#3 FOWLER BLUE (20-1) finished a non-threatening fourth in the Mine That Bird and will need a major step forward to make a case in this event. A victory by the Luis Mendez pupil would be a surprise.

#4 SLOW DOWN ANDY (2-1) rates as the one to beat for Doug O’Neill. The Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) star was outrun in the deep Risen Star S. (G2) in his sophomore bow but faces an easier task in this one, and he will wear blinkers for the first time. The Nyquist chestnut fired a bullet six panels from the gate in his most recent morning move to prepare for this assignment with Mario Gutierrez signed on for the voyage.

#5 BYE BYE BOBBY (9-2) made up a lot of ground late to finish a solid second in the Mine That Bird last time out. The expensive Quality Road colt has run well in three of four lifetime tries, and his affinity for the local course will come in handy on Sunday. The late-running gray will appreciate the added ground in this endeavor with Roimes Chirinos retaining the ride.

#6 PEPPER SPRAY (15-1) possesses a stakes win on the surface, but he showed little last time and looks overmatched on this occasion. The Tale of Ekati gelding will be better suited to softer engagements going forward.

#7 CHROME KING (15-1) rallied for an upset tally in the Turf Paradise Derby most recently for trainer Miguel Hernandez. The Munnings gelding is trending in the right direction, but he looks to be in a bit too deep against this crew.

#8 STRAIGHT UP G (5-2) is a neck shy from boasting a four-race win streak for trainer Richard Baltas. The Jungle Racing homebred led in gate-to-wire fashion in the local prep for this contest, and if he moves forward off of that performance, then the California-bred surely has a chance of taking down this field with regular pilot Ricardo Gonzalez in the controls.

Meet the Contenders for the 2022 Sunland Derby

Download the full betting guide for a 5-star rating of each horse's winning potential.

  • Costa Terra
    • Pro: Stakes-placed colt ships in for Asmussen, late runner may have pace up front.
    • Con: Exits poor effort in OP alw, lone win in slop; minor award probably best-case scenario.
  • Classic Moment
    • Pro: Tactical speed, third in Mine That Bird after wide trip; win contender adds Rosario.
    • Con: Lone win in sprint; will he keep moving forward while stretching out in distance?
  • Fowler Blue
    • Pro: Makes second start off freshening after fourth in Mine That Bird; top three possible.
    • Con: Well-beaten last time, may need easier competition and less ground to be effective.
  • Slow Down Andy
    • Pro: Grade 2 winner adds blinkers, gets major class relief following sixth in deep Risen Star (G2).
    • Con: Maturity issues last season, lone wins in short fields; will he be professional enough?
  • Bye Bye Bobby
    • Pro: Just missed in last two stakes attempts, improving colt could have more to offer.
    • Con: Hung in the stretch two back, class concerns; minor award may be his ceiling.
  • Pepper Spray
    • Pro: Won first three starts, including pair of stakes; better than he showed last time.
    • Con: Speed ratings inferior to main rivals, stretch out doesn’t appear optimal.
  • Chrome King
    • Pro: Turf Paradise Derby winner exits a pair of encouraging efforts, experience over track.
    • Con: Surprised at 23-1 last time, been exposed at this level and the distance looks too far.
  • Straight Up G
    • Pro: Must be caught following wire-to-wire Mine That Bird Derby win; dangerous speed.
    • Con: Nearly coughed up clear lead last time, added distance might prove problematic.