Racing News

Blue-blooded Govenor Charlie steps up in Sunland Derby

  • San Vicente winner Shakin It Up and kinsman Govenor Charlie figure strongly in the Sunland Derby (Benoit Photos)

Fifteen years removed from their Kentucky Derby victory with Real Quiet, owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert have another potential candidate for the Louisville classic in Govenor Charlie, one of two colts Baffert will saddle in Sunday's Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby over 1 1/8 miles.

The lightly-raced Govenor Charlie has made just two starts. Recovering from a slow start to finish a distant second to next-out allowance winner Let Em Shine in a a January 19 maiden at Santa Anita, the dark bay successfully stretched out to a mile over the same track February 17 and bested next-out maiden winner Footbridge by a neck after a stretch-long duel.

A homebred, Govenor Charlie is by the Baffert-trained sprint champion Midnight Lute. The colt's second dam is Silverbulletday, a two-time champion for Pegram and Baffert whose major victories included the Kentucky Oaks, Alabama and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.           

Shakin It Up, another Midnight Lute grandson of Silverbulletday, is the other Baffert trainee in the field. Bred by Pegram and co-owned by him with Dennis Cardoza, Shakin It Up has a deeper resume so far with two stakes appearances under his belt. Third in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue last November following a dominant maiden score at Santa Anita, Shakin It Up kicked off 2013 with a one-length tally in the Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita over seven furlongs on February 17.

Other California invaders making the trek to Sunland Park for Sunday's race are last-out maiden winners Just Win Baby and Saint Prado, and the Doug O'Neill-trained Mudflats, who was unplaced in both the San Vicente and Grade 2 Jerome in his two stakes appearances.

The lone East Coast shipper in the Sunland Derby is the Todd Pletcher trainee Abraham, who rebounded from a photo-finish loss in his debut to win a nine-furlong Gulfstream Park maiden by a length in the slop February 16.

The Sunland Derby field is rounded out by the top three finishers from the February 23 Mine That Bird Derby -- Dry Summer, Show Some Magic and Stormdriver -- all of whom are locally based.