Starlight Racing's Cutting Humor gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first win of the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep season on Sunday, fending off a late run from Anothertwistafate to win the G3 Sunland Derby by a head on the wire. The 3-year-old son of First Samurai was just behind a rapid early pace and came flying down the stretch to eclipse the Sunland Park record for nine furlongs, completing the distance in 1:46.94 over a fast course. Ridden by John Velazquez as the 2-1 second choice, Cutting Humor's win earned the colt his first 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“When he felt the other horse, he kind of dug in again,” said Velazquez.
The Bob Baffert-trained 4-5 favorite Mucho Gusto set the pace and faded to finish third.
Mucho Gusto broke well at the rail but didn't seem keen to pull away for an uncontested lead. He was joined by Anothertwistafate and Hustle Up across the track through a first quarter in :22.76, after which Anothertwistafate dropped back to race alongside Cutting Humor just behind the frontrunners through a :45.63 half-mile. Hustle Up dropped back after three-quarters in 1:09.63, while Mucho Gusto didn't start to tire until the head of the lane.
Cutting Humor took over from the favorite in the stretch, but appeared to be waiting on rivals until he felt the late run from Anothertwistafate. Velazquez said Cutting Humor then dug back in, getting his head down first on the wire. Anothertwistafate was not digraced in second, and his current total of 30 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby may be enough to get him into the starting gate. Mucho Gusto finished third, while Wicked Indeed was fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams, Cutting Humor was a $135,000 short yearling at the Keeneland January sale. Starlight purchased the colt for $400,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select sale, and he broke his maiden in his third start at Gulfstream Park West. He ran second to Bourbon War in his sophomore debut, then blew the turn in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn before finish seventh. Overall, Cutting Humor has a record of two wins from six starts for earnings of over $500,000.
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