Another Derby Prep, Another Upset
By Dick Downey
Hence, last seen running seventh in the Southwest Stakes, came from off the pace to win the Sunland Derby and score 50 Kentucky Derby points.
Ridden for the first time by Alfredo Juarez, Jr., the Steve Asmussen trainee laid off torrid early fractions, shot to the lead leaving the far turn, and eased away to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
Hedge Fund broke well under Jose Ortiz and took the field through early fractions of 22.56 and 45.72 before slowing things up with six furlongs in 1:10.22. Bronze Age, who stumbled at the start, was in closest pursuit through the first half-mile but was suddenly pulled up by Martin Garcia in the backstretch. Irap, Balandeen and Shareholder Value were left vying to get to Hedge Fund, but local hero Conquest Mo Money ran into second place going into the far turn and siezed the lead in the bend.
Hence, 10th of 11 in the early going, was also gaining momentum behind Conquest Mo Money and ran himself into fourth position going into the turn. He was first leaving it after looming wide and then opened up on the field.
Conquest Mo Money stayed on for second, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Hedge Fund, who was followed across the finish line a neck behind by Irap. The remaining order of finish was Total Tap, Dilettante, Balandeen, Oxford Lane, Shareholder Value and Wine N Divine. Bronze Age, the 5-2 post-time favorite, was eased and walked off, according to the Equibase chart. Kimbear was scratched.
The race was finished in a typically fast time for the Sunland Derby, 1:48.10 for the 1 1/8 mile.
The result left Hence, who was sent off at 10-1 odds, with 50 Kentucky Derby points easily sufficient to make the starting gate. The previously undefeated Conquest Mo Money and Hedge Fund weren't nominated to the Triple Crown and won't get their respective 20 and 10 Derby points unless a $200,000 supplement fee is paid. The five points awarded to Irap, who remains a maiden, pushed his total to 13.
Hence has traveled an uneven Derby Road to this point. The homebred belonging to Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm finished seventh, third and second in three starts as a juvenile, including a show finish to Guest Suite in an Oct. 8 maiden race at Keeneland going 1 1/16 mile. He broke his maiden in his fourth lifetime start on Jan. 16 at Oaklawn Park under Ramon Vazquez after coming from off the pace on a sloppy-sealed track, giving Asmussen his 500th win at the track.
In the 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes on Feb. 20, Hence started out in eighth, advanced to fifth but finished seventh, beaten 13 lengths by One Liner and a time of 1:41.85 on a speed-favoring track.
The Sunland Derby was his first race after that loss, and Hence made up for his past disappointments not only by getting Derby points, but also by winning $480,000 of the $800,000 purse. His supporters at the windows were richly rewarded too, getting $23.60, $12.60 and $7.40 for each $2 ticket.
The son of Street Boss is out the A.P. Indy mare Floating Island and was foaled exactly three years ago this coming Tuesday.
Trainer Asmussen said Hence will be pointed to the Kentucky Derby.
Alfredo Juarez, Jr.: “When we got to the quarter pole I hit him left handed and he started to roll. I got so emotional. I was just enjoying every step of the way. This is the top win.”