35-1 shocker: Wild On Ice pulls off upset in Sunland Park Derby

35-1 shocker: Wild On Ice pulls off upset in Sunland Park Derby
Photo: Sunland Park TV

He is not nominated for the Triple Crown, but Texas-bred Wild On Ice ridden by a 60-year-old jockey still might have thrown the biggest curveball into the prep season for Kentucky Derby 2023.

A Tapizar gelding who was beaten by a total of 44 lengths in two previous stakes starts, Wild On Ice (35-1) surprised five rival 3-year-olds Sunday, pulling off the second-biggest upset in the 18 runnings of the Sunland Park Derby.

The Grade 3, $600,000 race awarded 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers, so the victory came with an automatic berth to run for the roses May 6 at Churchill Downs, as long as the winner is nominated.

Click here for Sunland Park entries and results.

Breeder-owner Frank Sumpter and trainer Joel Marr have to decide whether to pay $6,000 by the close of business Monday to make Wild On Ice eligible.

“I don’t know,” Marr told Sunland Park TV after the race. “We weren’t thinking about it, even that, until a few minutes ago.”

Racing just behind pacesetters Henry Q (8-5) and Hard to Figure (1-2), jockey Ken Tohill guided Wild On Ice around them as they turned for home, catching a 20 mph tailwind that at times gusted to 40 mph on a 70-degree afternoon. As the speed horses faded, both Wild On Ice and Low Expectations (21-1) made up ground to finish in the top two.

Wild On Ice won by 1 1/4 lengths with a time of 1:51.39 for the 1 1/8 miles after early fractions that were said to be 20.58, 45.96, 1:10.64 and 1:32.20, although the posted first-quarter fraction was not included on the race chart.

Low Expectations finished second followed in order by Henry Q, How Did He Do That (11-1) and One in Vermilion (18-1), all of whom collected Derby qualifying points but may fall short of getting to the gate in Kentucky on May 6.

Hard to Figure faded to last. Any points he might have earned would have been vacated because he is looked after by ineligible trainer Bob Baffert.

Wild On Ice paid $72.80, $34.80 and $6.40, Low Expectations $15.40 and $4.40 and Henry Q $2.20. A winning $1 ticket for the exacta was $48, the trifecta $1,572.60 and superfecta $4,046.50. A 50-cent ticket with the correct order for the top five yielded $9,386.20.

At 46-1, Hi Teck Man in 2004 was the only longer shot to win the Sunland Park Derby.

Tohill has been riding since 1979, according to Equibase statistics. With 4,096 wins from 30,756 starts, this was his first graded-stakes victory. The $356,400 purse money that Wild On Ice earned Sunday was better than any of the top six career earners on Tohill’s résumé.

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