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Stronghold Too Much for Rivals in Sunland Park Derby

Twice a bridesmaid in stakes company Stronghold  defeated his rivals in a commanding performance for his first black-type score in the Feb. 18 $400,000 Sunland Park Derby (G3).

Stronghold, a homebred for Eric and Sharon Waller, not only aced his first test outside of California but lowered the Sunland Park Derby stakes record to 1:42.64 for 1 1/16 miles in the process. He picked up 20 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, increasing his total to 25 on the Derby points leaderboard.

A game runner-up to Wynstock  last time out in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), Stronghold dueled with local hero Lucky Jeremy  through a first quarter in :23.69 and a half-mile in :47.45. Putting a head in front at the three-quarter marker, Stronghold then declared his dominance, kicking clear in the stretch despite a valiant effort from Lucky Jeremy for a 2 1/2 length tally.

Alotaluck , third throughout, edged Lucky Jeremy for second.

The 3-2 betting favorite, Stronghold ($4.40) was ridden by Antonio Fresu.

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“It’s only his second race going long, he’s still learning but hopefully this race should do him a load of good,” trainer Phil D’Amato said of Stronghold.

D’Amato indicated that Stronghold would have one more prep that would “hopefully lead us to the Kentucky Derby.”

A 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper  , Stronghold is produced from the grade 1-placed Jimmy Creed mare Spectator. Stronghold improved his record to 2-3-0 from 5 starts and earnings of $377,200.

Video: Sunland Park Derby (G3)

Recharge Re-Rallies for Sunland Park Oaks Score

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Recharge  shipped out west and kept her undefeated record intact with a gritty victory in the $250,000 Sunland Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Recharge wins the Sunland Park Oaks on Sunday, February 18, 2024 at Sunland Park
Photo: Coady Photo

Recharge, right, wins the Sunland Park Oaks at Sunland Park

Recharge, second choice behind 4-5 Phil D’Amato trainee Simply Enchanting , was hellbent for the lead when the gates opened. Boldly taking command under jockey Joel Rosario, Recharge controlled a pace of :24.09 and :48.39 before being prompted by a looming Candy Aisle  around the final turn. As soon as Candy Aisle appeared to get the better of Recharge, the daughter of Gun Runner   responded with a final surge of momentum to carry her in first across the wire.

Making her stakes debut for trainer Steve Asmussen, Recharge ($6.60) edged Candy Aisle by a neck in a final time of 1:37.27 for the mile.

Recharge, a half sibling to multiple graded stakes victress Finite, also trained by Asmussen, and 2018 Mine That Derby winner Reride , collected 20 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Video: Sunland Park Oaks (BT)

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