SUNLAND DERBY | PURSE: $800,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8 MILES
Not long after Midnight Lucky routed the Sunland Park Oaks, Govenor Charlie made it a track record-setting double for owner Mike Pegram, trainer Bob Baffert and young sire Midnight Lute when opening up in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby. Govenor Charlie, sent off as the 6-5 favorite off a gutsy maiden score at Santa Anita last out, thrust himself into the Kentucky Derby picture by earning 50 points.
The Pegram homebred forced a contentious pace while parked on the outside of Saint Prado and Abraham, who matched strides through an opening quarter in :22 3/5 on a Sunland Park track that was playing quite fast. Govenor Charlie joined them to make it a line of three at the half in :46 1/5, and put his head in front on the far turn through six furlongs in 1:09 4/5.
Once Martin Garcia turned him loose, the race was over, as Govenor Charlie skipped five lengths clear in a track-record time of 1:47 2/5 for 1 1/8 miles. He easily eclipsed the old mark of 1:48 1/5 set by Winsham Lad in 1961 and equaled by Prenupcial in 1962.
Show Some Magic rallied for second, 3 1/4 lengths ahead of a one-paced Abraham. Baffert's more accomplished entrant, Grade 2 San Vicente winner Shakin It Up, got up for fourth in a lackluster performance from off the pace. Stormdriver, Mudflats, Saint Prado, Dry Summer and Just Win Baby completed the order of finish.
Govenor Charlie, who furnished mutuels of $4.60, $3.40 and $2.80, boosted his bankroll to $444,800 from his 3-2-1-0 line. In his January 19 debut sprinting six furlongs at Santa Anita, the dark bay was best of the rest behind the speedy Let Em Shine. Govenor Charlie stretched out to a mile in a February 19 maiden, where he argued the pace, lost the lead to Footbridge in the stretch, but fought back determinedly to prevail by a neck. With his Sunland heroics, he is now two-for-two around two turns.
Govenor Charlie, a half-brother to stakes winner Crisis of Spirit, is out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Silverbulletway. She is in turn a half-sister to the dam of Shakin It Up, another son of Midnight Lute and a close relative of Govenor Charlie.
Silverbulletway was produced by Hall of Famer Silverbulletday, one of Baffert's best runners. A two-time Eclipse Award winner, Silverbulletday earned more than $3 million while capturing such Grade 1 events as the 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and 1999 Kentucky Oaks, Alabama, Ashland and Gazelle. She has produced the stakes-placed Tice and also factors as the granddam of the stakes-placed Mile High Magic.
This is the family of Grade 1 winners Forest Secrets, Fourty Niners Son and Cindy's Hero. Further back, one finds another Hall of Famer in Arts and Letters, the runner-up in the 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness who went on to conquer the Belmont Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap, Travers, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup.