Expert picks: Sunland Derby 2019 predictions, longshots

March 19, 2019 08:56pm
Expert picks: Sunland Derby 2019 predictions, longshots
Photo: Vassar Photography

Sunday's Sunland Derby (G3) features speedy Southern California shipper Mucho Gusto and razor-sharp Golden Gate Fields invader Anothertwistafate. Both have speed, but local win machine Hustle Up also likes to go to the front, so this race might set up for an off the pace type.

Before choosing how to bet Sunday’s eleventh race at Sunland Park, let's analyze the field:

The Favorite

#1 Mucho Gusto (8-5) might be forced to go too fast early from the inside post. He is 3-for-4 with two graded wins but had everything go right on a wet, speed-favoring surface in the Feb. 2 Robert Lewis (G3). I am not sure that he is a good as his reputation. The Bob Baffert trainee looks like an underlay in this spot.

Value Win Contenders

#2 Anothertwistafate (3-1) is one of the most interesting Kentucky Derby trail runners this year. He won his last three all-weather routes by a combined 16 lengths, including the El Camino Real Derby last time. With that, you can draw a line through his dirt sprint bow at Santa Anita last fall. He should make his presence felt throughout and most likely wins this if he handles dirt. He rated kindly on the front end in his last three wins at Golden Gate and could end up in a perfect stalking spot if others are intent on the lead. Note that he is the only entrant with a win at this nine-furlong distance.  

#4 Wicked Indeed (6-1) exits a clear place finish in the local prep for this, and he gets pace to chase in the paper race. Luis Contreras knows him now and he is the only top contender with a race over the track.

Live Longshots

#5 Cutting Humor (8-1) fits with these if he can run back to his runner-up finish behind Bourbon War on Jan. 18. He was the beaten favorite in the Southwest (G3) but did show some run in that event and might win this if the pace heats up and he settles early under John Velazquez. 

Remaining Entrants

#3 Hustle Up (5-1) is 4-for-4 at Sunland Park, and the talented New Mexico-bred gelding should make his presence felt throughout. He meets other quality speed, however, and might be in deep water today.  

#6 Walker Stalker (15-1) could not keep up with Hustle Up in the Mine That Bird Derby and settled for the show that day. He has some ability but might be up against it versus this salty group.  

#7 Pasamonte Man (20-1) has no speed, but that might be a good thing in this spot. I can see the lightly raced maiden passing a few runners late and possibly completing the superfecta.

#8 Collusionist (25-1) was nowhere in the Mine That Bird Derby, and things don’t get any easier today. His best efforts were in sprint races against softer company.  

#9 Diamond Blitz (15-1) is a Southern California shipper with speed for Team Desormeaux. The problem is that the inside runners are sharper, faster speed horses and he has yet to run fast enough to win a race like this after six outings. 

#10 Eye Cloud (30-1) beat two runners in the Mine That Bird Derby and looks just like Collusionist. He probably needs a sprint race against lesser foes. 

Wagering Strategies

The Plays: 

#2 to win

Exacta 2/1-4-5

Exacta 1-4-5/2

Trifecta Key 2/1-4-5


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