Chitu and Midnight Hawk engaged in a long duel through the entire length of the Sunland Park homestretch before Chitu pulled away to win the Grade 3 Sunland Derby by two lengths at the wire. Midnight Hawk was the clear runner-up, while Commissioner finished third. With his victory in the Sunland Derby, Chitu picked up a big 50 points towards a start in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
The Sunland Derby began with Garen breaking well from his inside post en route to taking about a length lead on the field heading into the first turn. Chitu broke alertly and moved towards the inside part of the track to get into a good stalking position right off Garen's hip. Midnight Hawk, a bit slower from the gate than the two leaders, gained ground easily coming off the far turn and sat just to the outside of Chitu the entire way down the backstretch.
As the field entered the far turn, Garen began to tire while Midnight Hawk and Chitu moved to the front of the field. At the top of the lane, Midnight Hawk had a slim lead and the outside position on Chitu, but Chitu still had some gas left in the tank and was able to maintain his momentum for the duration of the stretch drive. Midnight Hawk fought on gamely for about a furlong before he ultimately gave way to the winner.
Chitu is a three-year-old colt by Henny Hughes out of an A.P. Indy mare (Sea Gift), trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden by Martin Garcia.
Below are the results of the Sunland Derby:
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