SUNLAND PARK — Nitrous overcame a very bumpy start and was forced into come from behind tactics early, but still managed to pass every horse in the race to win a thrilling 56th running of the $106,000 Riley Allison Derby at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Sunday. The Allison Derby is the chief prep for both the $100,000 Mine That Bird Derby on Feb. 24 and the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) on Sunday, March 24.
Nitrous, the 3-5 favorite, was squeezed at the start but leading jockey Luis Contreras remained cool and allowed the gorgeous three-year-old gray Tapit colt to settle into stride for the one mile stakes. Trailing by at least 11 lengths in the first quarter mile, Nitrous began to turn on the gas in the back stretch run and was splitting rivals eagerly on the second turn. The gray blur went into overdrive with a frenetic attack and took the lead at the top of the stretch.
The Steve Asmussen trained charge battled with a determined Sheriff Brown throughout the stretch run and ended up a head in front at the wire. Nitrous had plenty of momentum while Sheriff Brown tried to make it close. The winning time was a solid 1:36.98. Nitrous showed ample turn of foot and poise in overcoming a slow start. He paid $3.20 to win in his first career stakes win. In 2018, Nitrous was third to Mind Control in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He earned $63,600 for the Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreeet Stables LLC. The gray blur now becomes a prime contender for possibly the Mine That Bird or the Sunland Derby (Gr. III). Asmussen last won the Sunland Derby (Gr. III) with Hence in 2017.
Joe Peacock’s Sheriff Brown generated a pulsating stretch run and just missed in his first stakes appearance. Trained by Todd Fincher, Sheriff Brown is a half-brother to 2018 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner Runaway Ghost and is by Curlin. The gelding displayed much heart with a fantastic runner-up effort. He finished early 6 lengths in front of the third place finisher Mc Awesome. Sheriff Brown earned $21,200 on Sunday and was coming off a maiden win at one mile at Sunland Park 12 days ago on January 15. He should also be considered a major threat for the Mine That Bird and Sunland Derbies. The 10-1 shot was ridden by Ry Eikleberry.
Rotation, Asmussen’s second charge in the race, finished fourth beaten 7 lengths.
Parade of Roses held off a furious late rally from K P Slickem to win the 22nd running of the Borderplex Stakes going six and one-half furlongs. The 6-1 shot ridden by Ry Eikleberry dug in bravely in the final furlong to win the prep for the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks to be run on Sunday, March 24. The Remington Park invader trained by Nate Williams showed much courage closing off the pace to win her first stakes race and second victory overall in 8 starts. The three-year-old filly won by a neck and covered the distance in a good 1:17.56.
The fast improving New Year’s Day filly paid $15.00 to win and earned $39,000 for owner Josh Shanahan of Altoona, Iowa. She might be considered for the $75,000 Island Fashion Stakes at one mile to be run on Sunday, Feb. 24.
K P Slickem ran a bold race at 9-1 odds. Under jockey Roimes Chirinos, the daughter of Include produced a wicked stretch attack and was gaining on the winner. The recent maiden winner from Zia Park simply ran out of real estate, but should appreciate a race going two turns. The runner-up trained by Martin Weston and owned by Karl Pergola of K P Wildcat fame.
Figure wound up third after forcing the pace.
Live racing resumes on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.