Video courtesy of Sunland Park
When Bob Baffert ships horses out of California for Kentucky Derby prep races, he means business and the $800,000 Sunland Derby was no exception. Baffert sent Chitu and Midnight Hawk to New Mexico and left with first and second place at the end of the race.
Chitu settled behind Garen early in the race with Midnight Hawk close behind. The Baffert pair relaxed behind the leader until they approached the far turn where they both moved up to challenge Garen for the lead. By the time the field left the turn, it was a Baffert battle with Midnight Hawk in the lead with Chitu challenging him on the inside every step of the way. Chitu finally wore down his fellow trainee half-way down the stretch and pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths with Commissioner behind the two in third.
Chitu covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.88 for his first stakes victory. Before finishing second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in his last race, he’d won his first two starts in December of last year. He was purchased for $300,000 at a 2-year-olds in training sale last year and runs for Tanma Corporation. The colt is a grandson of Grade 3 winner Ocean Queen.
Baffert didn’t just win the Sunland Derby as Awesome Baby won the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks for her third straight stakes victory earlier on the card.
To see the Equibase chart for the Sunland Derby, click here.