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Breeders' Cup 2017

Chitu Shows Courage in Sunland Derby

Chitu Sunland Derby 615 X 400
Photo: Coady Photography
Chitu generated a courageous winning performance and gave trainer Bob Baffert his third $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) crown on Sunday at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in front of an all-time record crowd of 18,642 fans.

Despite being headed by stable mate Midnight Hawk, Chitu found enough energy reserves to come back and re-take the lead and win the Kentucky Derby prep race by 2 and ¼ lengths under jockey Martin Garcia. Bet down to 9-5 favoritism, the former $300,000 OBS sales graduate was primed for a big effort in the one and one-eighth mile classic.

Assistant Trainer Jim Barnes said after the race, “From day one, everything went well. He shipped well. With two sprints and one route under his belt, this was the race he needed. He’s getting fitter and fitter.”

Winning owners Charles and Susan Chu of the Tanma Corporation were ecstatic in the winner’s circle and gave all the credit to trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Martin Garcia and assistant Trainer Jim Barnes. The Chus have been in the racing business for two years and have owned two stakes winners in 2013 Southwest Stakes winner Super Ninetynine and now Chitu. Mrs. Chu said that Chitu’s name derives from one of the all-time greatest racehorses in China and the pronunciation is the same.

Chitu, runner-up in the Robert B Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, seemed to relish the Sunland Park oval. The Henny Hughes colt pressed the pace setter Garen early and still had plenty of fight left for Midnight Hawk down the lane. He drew off handsomely and was timed in 1:47.88. The clocking just missed the track and stakes record held by Govenor Charlie of 1:47.54 from the 2013 Sunland Derby (Gr. III).  Baffert and Garcia combined forces to win last year’s Sunland Park Derby (Gr. III) with Govenor Charlie. Chitu earned $400,000 from his third career win from four starts and picked up 50 valuable qualifying points to the 2014 Kentucky Derby. He has now earned over a half million dollars.

Baffert’s second horse in the race Midnight Hawk looked like a winner passing the quarter mile marker when given his cue by jockey Mike Smith. The grey roan colt by Midnight Lute made a bold sweeping 3-wide move and took the lead heading into the stretch run. He battled bravely through the lane but could not conquer Chitu. The 2-1 second choice had to settle for second, finishing 4 and ¾ lengths in front of Commissioner. Midnight Hawk placed in his third straight graded stakes race. He earned a $176,000 paycheck for owners Hill ‘n’ Dale Holdings, Inc. (J.G. Sikura), Kitchen, Pegram et al. Additionally, Midnight Hawk picked up 20 more qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, pushing his total point tally to 52.

Todd Pletcher’s Commissioner raced with blinkers for the first time and finished third after bobbling at the start. He failed to muster a potent stretch attack. The A.P. Indy colt earned $96,000 for the WinStar Farm, LLC. He picked up 10 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby. Riley Allison Futurity winner and Mine That Bird Stakes winner Rebranded finished a distant fourth for trainer Justin Evans. He picked up 5 points towards entry to the Kentucky Derby. Bourbonize, Global Strike, Garen, Tanzanite Cat and Lawly’s Goal rounded out the order of finish.





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Older Comments about Chitu Shows Courage in Sunland Derby...

just a little FYI.. the past 6 days in the el paso/ sunland park area were real winding, cause the dust and pollen to pick up. i;m thinking that some of these horses were able to adjust on the thick air from our region. despite that, Chitu looked great out of the gate and after the race.
Oh, I got it. Your post was not clear. I think the connections of Midnight were very eager to run in the derby, and he now he got enough points in the gate.
I disagree the midnight hawk looked like the easy winner, yea he put his head in front but chitu responded as soon as he was asked - was a professional win by that colt. As far as the hawk - i've never been impressed much by him. I also don't think chitu needs to go 1:09 and change for 3/4 - he isn't a need the lead type - I don't think he will win the derby but if he runs I would not be at all surprised to see him hang on for a piece - he has been impressive in all 4 of his starts
Triple Double.I was talking about Midnight Hawk,he looked like the easy winner on the turn. He is the one that hs been overraced by the Bullet.
Correction please!! Chitu's first race was on Dec. 7th and it will be more than 100+ days from yesterday's race. And another 40+ days freshening until the derby with be a perfect schedule. By the way, Bullet Bob had at least a minimum of 4 colts running in the derby. It will a great year!! :)
Chitu given Beyer of 102 per DRFPrivman. https://twitter.com/DRFPrivman
IF! Jerry had sent Tam to this race he would have set a track/stakes record IF he ran down Chitu! "NOT" :)
I think he beat a less than average field on Sunday. His only competition looked as though he was going to pass him in the stretch. Then he felt the brunt of Baffert turning him into a Harness Horse. By that i mean 4 races in the past 70 Days. Almost a race every 2 weeks Bob. Some wonder why your horses are going down. You not only run them hard,but you work them hard.Thus the nickname Bullet Bob. That is for all the bullets they post when they work out.
COurage is being eyeballed by three early, fighint to get out down the back side and then holding off a late charge by two others late......
Courage? Prompted pace moved late journeyman style.
Courage? Prompted pace moved late journeyman style.
I was on Chitu in the Lewis to finish 2nd to Candy Boy in a cold exacta and to win only in this race. The only thing I saw in this race was he can not go much farther. Both of these Baffert horses were dead in the lane. You can not go 1:09 and change the first 6 furlongs in Kentucky and hold off any good closer. Too bad Jerry did not send Tamarando to this race. Any good closer would have run down these two. Oh, Candy Boy I believe did exacty that in the Lewis. This race showed again that it might be a California horse in the Kentucky Derby. In two weeks we will see who it will be.
Just some corrections: owner is Susan Chu and Tanma Corporation. Will have to read up on the other Chitu now!

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