In his first start for trainer Robertino Diodoro, Sir Rick on Sunday won Sunland Park’s Mine That Bird Derby and set himself up for a shot at a bigger prize next month.
The $100,000 Mine That Bird is the main local prep for the Grade 3, $700,000 Sunland Derby, which pays its winner 50 points toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby goes off March 22, six weeks before the First Saturday in May.
Sir Rick established himself as an early contender for the Sunland Derby by mounting a dominant effort Sunday in the 1 1/16-mile Mine That Bird.
Jockey Francisco Arrieta let Sir Rick go out to an early lead in the field of five, and the Paynter colt set an opening panel of :24.26. Top Draw pulled up to Sir Rick’s inside, and those two moved in tandem to make the half-mile in :48.25.
Sir Rick put his nose back in front coming through the second turn and opened a lead. He drew off in the stretch, scoring by four lengths to stop the clock in 1:44.23 and return $5.40 as the 8-5 favorite.
Miguel Hernandez trainee Top Draw hung tough to finish second, while Stackin Silver was third after shipping from California for trainer Richard Baltas.
Richard Davis campaigns the Kentucky-bred Sir Rick, who’s already started at five tracks – Lone Star, Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Sam Houston and now Sunland – over six starts.
The colt entered Sunday’s stakes off a last-out allowance optional claiming win Jan. 18 at Sam Houston for former trainer Steve Asmussen.