03/27/2017 5:08PM

Road to the Derby: Sunland Derby analysis

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Hence moved past Conquest Mo Money in upper stretch and drew away to a clear-cut victory.

Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Sunland Park, March 26, 2017
(50 Derby qualifying points for a win, 20 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth)

Winner: Hence, by Street Boss

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Alfredo Juarez Jr.

Owner: Calumet Farm

Beyer Speed Figure: 97

HENCE was well-beaten in a fast running of the Southwest Stakes ( http://www.drf.com/news/road-derby-southwest-stakes-analysis ) last month, but a change in scenery, some class relief, and a red-hot pace that flattered his late run propelled him to victory in this race, earning him a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

Hence was taken in hand early and was at the rear of the pack, in the two path, around the first turn. He made steady progress down the backstretch, then swooped five paths wide on the far turn to advance from 10th to second by the time the field reached the quarter pole. He moved past CONQUEST MO MONEY in upper stretch and drew away to a clear-cut victory.

Conquest Mo Money, who was second, could not get over from his outside draw and went into the first turn four paths wide while just a bit off the pace. He stayed wide down the backstretch, went into the far turn four paths wide, was asked for his best midway on the turn to get past HEDGE FUND, was immediately tackled by Hence, was under severe pressure in upper stretch, could not go with the winner but was well clear of everyone else while suffering the first loss of his career.

Hedge Fund, who finished third, showed good speed from his inside draw and set a brisk pace (22.26 seconds with a tailwind, 45.72 seconds) while hugging the rail. He opened a clear lead nearing the far turn, was challenged by Conquest Mo Money midway on the far turn and was asked for his best, could not go with the top two in upper stretch and through the lane but did manage to hold third. Considering the wicked pace, plus this being only his third start, he’s worth watching down the line.

IRAP, who finished fourth, went into the first turn in an ideal stalking position, just behind the leaders while between runners, in the two path. He moved outside BRONZE AGE down the backstretch and was second with a half-mile to go. Conquest Mo Money got the jump on him with three furlongs to go, and thus he had to wait in traffic midway on the far turn. He drifted out in upper stretch, was late to change leads in the stretch, and despite having the length of the stretch to get past Hedge Fund, could not do it.

TOTAL TAP, who was fifth, was a bit slow into stride and then was angled over from an outside post to save some ground while appearing a bit rank early. He gained some ground down the backstretch, went into the far turn four paths wide, had stablemate Hence roar past him on his outside, was in position to get a minor award in upper stretch but went evenly.

DILETTANTE, who was sixth, had good speed away from the gate but then sucked back between rivals entering the first turn and sat midpack, in the three path. He managed to split horses nearing the far turn, putting himself in position to do some good, but lacked any rally.

BALANDEEN, who was seventh, went into the first turn in the three path, just behind and outside Hedge Fund and Bronze Age. He went into the far turn three paths wide, had to steady slightly when Conquest Mo Money moved past him, was asked for his best but had nothing to offer.

OXFORD LANE, who was eighth, raced between horses while in a bit of traffic heading into the first turn, saved ground to the far turn, had to go around SHAREHOLDER VALUE, ducked back to the inside but never made any impact.

Shareholder Value, who was ninth, hugged the rail while following Hedge Fund around the first turn, was asked to hold his position nearing the far turn, but was done by the three-furlong mark and faded.

WINE N DIVINE, who was 10th, raced at the rear alongside Hence around the first turn, began to lose contact midway down the backstretch and never got involved.

Bronze Age, who finished last of 11, stumbled badly leaving the gate but showed good speed while racing on his wrong lead through the lane and went into the first turn in second, just behind and outside of Hedge Fund. He stayed in that spot down the backstretch, came under a ride soon after passing the 4 1/2-furlong mark, and then stopped badly and was eased.