03/27/2011 8:19PM

Sunland Park Derby: Twice the Appeal scores upset, points to Kentucky Derby

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Twice the Appeal wins Sunday's Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby.

Twice the Appeal, who won his maiden for a claiming price of $30,000, put himself in the Kentucky Derby picture Sunday, when he pulled off a 25-1 upset in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby. He won by 1 1/2 lengths over Astrology, while it was another head back in third to Ruler On Ice.

Twice the Appeal ($53.20) has developed rapidly since December, when he made his first start for a claiming price and rolled to a four-length win in a maiden sprint at Santa Anita. He proceeded to take a $40,000 starter allowance route, hit the board in the $50,000 Turf Paradise Derby, then overtook Grade 3 winner Astrology in the stretch of the Sunland Derby.

“He’s a late foal,” trainer Jeff Bonde said of Twice the Appeal. “Sprinting is not what he wanted to do.”

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Bonde said that when the horse moved to two turns he became very professional, and because of the potential he had shown, he was pointed to the Sunland Derby. Now, he is headed to the Kentucky Derby, having picked up $400,000 in graded stakes earnings for his first-place finish Sunday.

“I do want to go,” Bonde said.

Twice the Appeal was content to race in sixth early in the Sunland Derby as favorite Sinai led the field through fractions of 22.61 seconds for the opening quarter, 45.03 for the half-mile, and 1:10.89 for six furlongs. Astrology took over at that point, while Twice the Appeal stepped up his bid and got to the leader in the late stages of the Sunland Derby. Twice the Appeal covered the 1 1/8 miles on track rated fast in 1:50.91.

Christian Santiago-Reyes was aboard the winner for the partnership of Edward J. Brown Jr., Victor Flores, and Henry Hernandez. With the win, Twice the Appeal improved his record to 3 for 10 for earnings of $449,920.

Astrology, who was making his first start since November, picked up $176,000 in graded earnings for his second-place finish Sunday.

The Sunland Park Derby was the richest race of the meet and part of a program of six stakes at the New Mexico track Sunday. Handle on the 13-race card from all sources was a track-record $2,963,240.

Sunland reported a crowd of 18,571, which included patrons at its ontrack casino Sunday.