Hot favorites were ambushed in both of Saturday's "Derbies" in the Southwest. Mary C. and Robert L. Zollars' FUSA CODE (Fusaichi Pegasus) was twice beaten by Special Kid (Lemon Drop Kid) at home at Santa Anita, but turned the tables on that 3-2 favorite in the $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park. An even bigger upset was sprung a few minutes later in the $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby, where Jim Egger and William Burns' BEER MEISTER (Pleasant Tap) blew by a gaggle of foes, including prohibitive 3-5 favorite Indian Winter (Indian Charlie), to score at 40-1.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Fusa Code brought an 0-for-4 career mark into the Borderland Derby, most recently finishing third to Special Kid in a 1 1/16-mile maiden on February 3, and accordingly left the gate here as the 7-1 fourth choice in the 10-horse field. With new rider Justin Shepherd aboard, Fusa Code was settled about three lengths off the pace set by Orion Xpress (Bertrando) through splits of :24 and :48 3/5.
Special Kid, who had been tracking in second, and Fusa Code both accosted Orion Xpress at the six-furlong mark in 1:13, but Fusa Code was moving the better of the two challengers into the stretch. He opened up a safe margin, only to drift about and nearly gave it away. Special Kid's persistence helped him to narrow the gap, while 22-1 longshot Behold de Buy (E Dubai) was flying from the tail of the field in the final yards.