Wicked Indeed gets tepid nod in wide-open Sunland Derby

The final 50-point Kentucky Derby prep, the Sunland Derby, takes place this Sunday at Sunland Park. The Grade III, $800,000 event will be contested with a field of 10 at 1 1/8-miles. Post time for the Sunland Derby, Race 11 of 12 on the day, is 7:30 p.m. EST. #1 MUCHO GUSTO (8-5, morning-line favorite) and #2 ANOTHERTWISTAFATE (3-1), two California invaders, are expected to take the bulk of the action. But a runner exiting the local prep for the Sunland Derby, the Mine That Bird Derby, could hold the edge.

#4 WICKED INDEED (6-1) was gaining late in the Mine That Bird but had to settle for second behind #3 HUSTLE UP (5-1). However, he was stacked about four-wide from the backstretch run all the way to the top of the stretch. HUSTLE UP never really abandoned the rail as he led the whole race while setting a moderate pace. Despite the hard luck, WICKED INDEED and Luis Contreras made significant headway deep in the lane. With today’s added distance, and a possible pace collapse, WICKED INDEED looks poised to pull off an upset.

MUCHO GUSTO was last seen acing a muddy renewal of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. He won two of three starts before that, with his only loss coming to Improbable in the Los Alamitos Futurity. MUCHO GUSTO does not necessarily need the lead, but he may have to go early under Joe Talamo from the rail post. Main pace rivals ANOTHERTWISTAFATE and HUSTLE UP are drawn right alongside him. MUCHO GUSTO may be the one to beat on speed figures, but the pace scenario suggests that he’s vulnerable.

ANOTHERTWISTAFATE is a serious contender if he can replicate his synthetic form from Golden Gate. However, his one prior start on dirt was a disaster, as he finished ninth on debut at Santa Anita. It’s possible ANOTHERTWISTAFATE’s dirt unveiling was an aberration, but he’s not a great bet at 3-1 or less, especially considering the potentially hot tempo he’ll likely be a part of. Juan Hernandez has the call.

The play: $4 exacta box 1/4, $2 win 4 ($10)

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