The volatile nature of the 2017 Triple Crown trail found its way to New Mexico March 26 in the $800,000 Sunland Derby.
Yet again an upset was sprung at Sunland Park, with 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby points going to Calumet Farm's homebred 10.80-1 longshot Hence, as he hit the wire 3 ¾ lengths ahead of previously unbeaten Conquest Mo Money.
The son of Street Boss trained by Steve Asmussen found himself well back early in the 1 1/8-mile race under jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. as Hedge Fund ran the opening half-mile in :45.72. Hence moved up in the backstretch and fanned wide in the turn as Conquest Mo Money engaged a tiring Hedge Fund.
Hence caught up with Conquest Mo Money at the three-sixteenths pole and drew clear in midstretch, finishing up in 1:48.10. Conquest Mo Money was clearly second-best, finishing 4 ½ lengths ahead of Hedge Fund, who held off Irap for third by a neck.
Favored Bronze Age stumbled at the start and tracked the early leader in second but was eased late in the backstretch.
Seventh in the Southwest Stakes in his prior start, Hence broke his maiden in his fourth start Jan. 16 at Oaklawn Park by three-quarters of a length going 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy main track. He now has a 2-1-1 record from six starts with earnings of $542,601.
The colt was bred in Kentucky, out of the A.P. Indy mare Floating Island.
Beyond Irap came Total Tap, Dilettante, Balandeen, Oxford Lane, Shareholder Value, Wine N Divine, and Bronze Age.
The victory was Asmussen's second in the Sunland Derby, following Daddy Nose Best in 2012.