SUNLAND PARK, NM – Starlight Racing’s Cutting Humor sliced his way through to the front at the top of the stretch, then dug deep at the wire to just hold off a rallying Anothertwistafate to win Sunday’s Sunland Park Derby (G3) in track-record time.
Breaking from post 5 under John Velazquez as the 2/1 second choice, Cutting Humor tracked the early pace while running in the 2- and 3-path. Meanwhile, the rail-breaking 4/5 favorite Mucho Gusto dueled with Hustle Up through quick opening fractions of :22.76, :45.63, and 1:09.63. Making a three-wide move through the far turn, Cutting Humor collared the bettors’ choice by the top of the stretch. Though Mucho Gusto tried to fight back, his early pace seemed to have taken its toll and he began to weaken along the inside.
From between horses, Anothertwistafate was gearing up to rally toward the front and began advancing steadily toward Cutting Humor but ultimately was left with too much to do. Cutting Humor dug deep in the shadow of the wire and fought back to keep his challenger at bay long enough to cross with a neck advantage in a track record-time of 1:46.94 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
Mucho Gusto continued weakening in the stretch and finished 5 3/4 lengths back in third, though he was still 1 1/2 lengths better than Wicked Indeed in fourth. The rest of the field was similarly strung out, with Eye Cloud taking fifth, Pasamonte Man sixth, a spent Hustle Up fading to seventh, and Collusionist necking out Walker Stalker to round out the rest of the field.
The Sunland Park Derby is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Cutting Humor earned 50 points for the win, with Anothertwistafate receiving 20 for second, Mucho Gusto 10 for third, and Wicked Indeed 5 for fourth.
Cutting Humor’s win was his first since breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park West on November 17 and improved his overall record to 6-2-2-1. The Todd Pletcher-trained 3-year-old son of First Samurai, purchased for $400,000 as a yearling, increased his lifetime bankroll to $516,697 after taking home the first-place prize of $460,800.
Cutting Humor returned $6.60 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Anothertwistafate brought back $4 to place and $3 to show, while Mucho Gusto paid $2.20 to show.