SUNLAND PARK, NM – Calumet Farm’s homebred Hence rebounded from a lackluster performance in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes last month at Oaklawn Park with an impressive win in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby on Sunday. After falling way behind early, Hence made a sweeping move on the turn to get into contention before rolling home to a 3 3/4-length victory over the locally-trained Conquest Mo Money. It was another 4 1/2 lengths back to third place finisher Hedge Fund, trained by Todd Pletcher.
Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by local rider Alfredo Juarez, Jr., Hence finished the race in a strong 1:48.10. With the win, Hence earned 50 points towards a berth in the Kentucky Derby. Conquest Mo Money earned 20 points for finishing second, Hedge Fund earned 10 for third, and the maiden Irap earned 5 points for finishing fourth, just a neck behind Hedge Fund. Total Tap, Dilettante, Balandeen, Oxford Lane, Shareholder Value, Wine N Divine, and Bronze Age completed the order of finish. Kimbear was a late scratch.
The post time favorite for the race, Bronze Age was eased into the home turn and walked off after the race. Just a day after winning the Dubai World Cup, trainer Bob Baffert was not as fortunate, and his bad luck on the 2017 Kentucky Derby trail continued.
Hence was one of 5 entrants who were not Triple Crown-nominated by the start of the race. No definite planes were made for Hence following the win, but it gives him plenty of points to make the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.
Calumet Farm now has three Kentucky Derby hopefuls after looking like they might not even have one only a few weeks ago. Joining Hence in having a decent shot to make the race are fellow homebreds Sonneteer and Wild Shot. Sonneteer has 20 points from his second-place finish in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 18, and Wild Shot has 17 points earned from several on-the-board finishes.
Hedge Fund returned $23.60, $12.60, and $7.40. Conquest Mo Money brought back $4.80 and $4, while Hedge Fund paid $4.60 to show.