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                                SUNLAND PARK
  by Michael Cusortelli
Track Sets Single-Day New Mexico Handle Record
Cutting Humor, a Kentucky-bred son of First Samurai owned by Starlight Racing, rallied to win the March 24, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park.
Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, Cutting Humor went 1 1/8 miles in a track-record 1:46.94, and his winning margin was a dwindling neck from Anothertwistafate. The colt earned the $460,800 winner’s share of the purse from his first career stakes victory and 50 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points.
“As soon as he found himself on the lead, he idled,” said Velazquez, who also rode Cutting Humor in the colt’s seventh-place finish in the February 18, $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. “I switched to a left- handed stick, and he went on about his business again. The way he ran today was very good.”
Cutting Humor was bred by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams, and he was a $400,000 yearling purchase at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale. The colt is out of Pun, an unraced daughter of Pulpit, and he is a half-brother to Irish You Well, a graded stakes placed colt who won the listed Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park in ’14.
“I thought he ran super,” said Pletcher. “Johnny was able to get him into a comfortable position early on and get into a good rhythm.
After the issues he had in the first turn of the Southwest, which compromised any chance he had of winning that day, a good, comfortable rhythm was what we were hoping for (today).”
Cutting Humor has won two of six starts and has banked $516,967.
Mucho Gusto, the 9-10 favorite in the field of nine, finished third, six lengths behind Cutting Humor, and was followed by Wicked Indeed, Eye Cloud, Pasamonte Man, Hustle Up, Collusionist, and Walker Stalker.
Also, on Sunday, Summer Wind Equine’s Chasing Yesterday overcame a slow start and wide trip throughout to win the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for three-year-old fillies.
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke for trainer Bob Baffert, Chasing Yesterday defeated K
P Slickem by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:43.18. The homebred Tapit filly earned $116,400 and 50 Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points.
Chasing Yesterday was bred in Kentucky, and she was making her first start since Dec.8, when she scored a head victory as the 3-2 favorite in the 1 1/16- mile, $300,000 Starlet Stakes (G1) at Los Alamitos.
A three-time stakes winner in California last year, Chasing Yesterday has won five of six races and has earned $440,650. She is a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
A track-record $4,743,602 was wagered on Sunland Park’s 12-race card, bettering by 11 percent the previous mark of $4,278,344 handled on last year’s Sunland Derby program. Track officials announced an attendance of 16,957, which was 1.4 percent higher than last year’s Sunland Derby Day attendance of 16,717.
“It was a great day for New Mexico rac- ing,” said Dr. Leonard Blach, a member of the New Mexico Racing Commission and co- owner of 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mine That Bird. “If you want to see how live racing should be run, then you should be at the Sunland Derby.
“What a great program and a great crowd, so professionally done,” he added. “We were so pleased.”
Sunland Derby Day annually draws the track’s largest crowd of the season, as well as a great deal of national and local media coverage.
“The strong Sunland handle figures indicated that the betting public loves to wager on a strong, high-quality product
in New Mexico,” said New Mexico Racing Commission executive director Ismael “Izzy” Trejo.
 62 New Mexico Horse Breeder
Coady Photgraphy

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