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Cutting Humor sets track record to capture Sunland Derby

Trainer Todd Pletcher has another runner for the Kentucky Derby (G1), and he punched his 16th consecutive ticket to the Run for the Roses when Cutting Humor blazed home in a track-record time to win the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) and secure his spot in the Kentucky Derby.

The win was worth 50 Derby qualifying points, and also Pletcher’s first victory in the Sunland Derby. Jockey John Velazquez was aboard Cutting Humor, who closed at 2-1 odds after opening 8-1 on the morning line.

Cutting Humor patiently sat midpack in the field of nine while front-running 4-5 favorite Mucho Gusto tore threw fractions of :22.76, :45.63 and 1:09.63. The stalk-and-pounce Cutting Humor closed the gap on the far turn, edged in front of the leader in the stretch, then flew home in the final furlong.

"When he felt the other horse, he kind of dug in again," Velazquez said of Cutting Humor.

Anothertwistafate was forced four wide but took aim at the leader and gained steadily but slowly before coming up just a neck short. Mucho Gusto faded to third nearly six lengths behind, and Wicked Indeed finished fourth.

Cutting Humor ran 1 18 miles over the fast track at Sunland Park in 1:46.94, a new track record.

Cutting Humor paid $6.60 to win, Anothertwistafate paid $4 to place, and Mucho Gusto paid $2.20 to show on $2 bets. A trifecta, picking all three in order, paid $33.60 on a $1 bet. Anothertwistafate earned 20 Derby points and now has 30 total, which may be enough to get him into the Kentucky Derby.

Ted Nixon is an ownership partner of Cutting Humor, and also had an interest in last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify. Nixon traveled with his father and owner, Bo, to Sunland Park on Sunday. They’ll return to their home in Louisville, Kentucky, knowing they have a horse to run on their home track at Churchill Downs for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

"It’s a great feeling to be a part of this win," Nixon said. "Cutting Humor ran a great race and he came back from a tough race in his last start. I’m real proud of the horse and we’ll see where we go from here."

The son of First Samurai heads to the Kentucky Derby with a record of 2-2-1 in six starts and $516,967 in career earnings.

HANSON: Mucho Gusto tops Sunland Derby, Bellafina to scratch from Sunland Park Oaks