Starlight Racing's Cutting Humor put himself on the Road to the Kentucky Derby March 24 with a track record-setting win over Anothertwistafate in the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby at Sunland Park.
Cutting Humor rebounded off of seventh-place finish in the Feb. 18 Southwest Stakes with his game neck score over Anothertwistafate. The Majestic Warrior colt earned 50 qualifying points for the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve with the win.
Bob Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto broke well from his spot on the rail and established an early lead. The 9-10 favorite, who won the Feb. 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in his previous start, looked comfortably in command during the early stages, setting a relatively fast pace for the 1 1/8-mile race.
Mucho Gusto was still the one to beat as the field passed the half-mile point in :45.63 and then six furlongs in 1:09.63. Guided by jockey John Velazquez, Cutting Humor made his move along the backstretch and was hustled three wide as they got up to challenge the leader, with El Camino Real Derby winner Anothertwistafate sitting just behind the dueling pair.
As the pair came into the stretch, Mucho Gusto had nothing left in reserve, and Cutting Humor forged a half-length lead.
Just when the race looked to be won, Anothertwistafate found a second wind and stormed home down the middle of the stretch in an attempt to run down Cutting Humor. Not to be denied, Cutting Humor battled on and prevailed by a neck in a thrilling finish.
"Once I got to the quarter pole, I thought he was going pretty easy," Velazquez said. "Then I asked him, and as soon as he found himself on the lead, he started waiting. He idled pretty badly, and I'm thinking, 'Come on buddy. You've got to get your mind back on running.'
"I waited until the eighth pole, switched to left-handed, and he responded."
Cutting Humor’s final time of 1:46.94 set a track record for the distance.
Mucho Gusto held third, six lengths behind the winner, and Wicked Indeed took fourth. Anothertwistafate earned 20 points, Mucho Gusto 10, and Wicked Indeed 5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Cutting Humor improved his record to 2-2-1 from six starts, with earnings of $516,967. He was purchased for $400,000 in 2017 by Starlight from the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency at Fasig-Tipton's selected yearling sale in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.