Cutting Humor Edges Anothertwistafate in Sunland Derby

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 25th, 2019

In a clear-cut demonstration of how trips can affect the performance of a racehorse, Cutting Humor had the last laugh in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) at Sunland Park, parlaying a clean run into a gallant victory in the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of First Samurai entered the Sunland Derby off a troubled seventh-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), in which he endured a rough run to the first turn before making a premature mid-race move that left him exhausted in the homestretch.

In the Sunland Derby, Cutting Humor encountered no such obstacles. Reserved a few lengths off the early pace under jockey John Velazquez, Cutting Humor stayed outside and in the clear while the front-running favorite Mucho Gusto carved out fractions of :22.76, :45.63, and 1:09.63. Thereafter, Cutting Humor rallied to the lead, taking over from Mucho Gusto prior to the eighth pole before gamely holding off a late charge from Anothertwistafate to win by a neck.

The latter colt, coming off a front-running victory in the El Camino Real Derby, showed a new dimension tracking the early pace, but wound up waiting in traffic at a key moment on the far turn. This hesitation might have been costly, for once Anothertwistafate got in the clear, he re-rallied with determination to fall just short of catching the winner. Mucho Gusto, tiring from his pace-setting efforts, finished 5 ¾ lengths back in third place.

Cutting Humor stopped the clock for 1 1/8 miles in the track-record time of 1:46.94. However, the eye-catching time was largely the result of an incredibly fast track that was producing quick times all day long; earlier on the card, the graded stakes-winning mare Escape Clause broke the track record for a mile, clocking the distance in 1:34 flat. As a result, Cutting Humor was assigned a solid but not overly remarkable 95 Beyer speed figure for his Sunland Derby victory.

Owned by Starlight Racing, Cutting Humor picked up 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points to place fifth on the current leaderboard; in all likelihood, 50 points will be sufficient to secure him a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

In contrast, Anothertwistafate earned 20 points to bring his total to 30, currently good for twelfth place but putting him on the bubble of potential qualifiers. Anothertwistafate may have to run once more—perhaps in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) or Lexington Stakes (gr. III) on April 13—in order to guarantee himself a spot in the Derby starting gate.