September 22, 2021

Hence powers to Sunland Derby victory

Sunland Derby (G3) winner Hence will be ridden by Mike Smith in the Iowa Derby (G3) (Coady Photography)

Calumet Farm’s homebred Hence failed to factor while making his stakes debut in the February 20 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but a change in venue on Sunday saw the Steve Asmussen-trained sophomore romp home an easy winner of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3).

With Alfredo Juarez Jr. aboard, the chestnut son of Street Boss settled in the rear of the 11-strong field as Hedge Fund set the pace through splits of :22.26, :45.72 and 1:10.22. Bronze Age stumbled at the start but that didn’t stop him and Irap from tracking the leader.

Hence bided his time in the back, gradually picking off runners down the backstretch and swung five wide on the second turn. By this point Conquest Mo Money was battling with Hedge Fund for command of the race, but neither runner could hold off the rush of Hence. The Kentucky-bred easily pulled away to be 3 3/4 lengths clear on the wire while finishing nine furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:48.10.

Hence was sent off the 10-1 seventh pick in the field and returned $23.60 for his upset win. Conquest Mo Money filled the second spot, 4 1/2 lengths up on Hedge Fund, who just held Irap to fourth by a neck.

The Sunland Derby is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of points races and was worth 50 points to the winner. Thus, Hence debuted on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard in fifth. Conquest Mo Money earned 20 points toward a spot in the Derby starting gate but isn’t nominated to the race. Hedge Fund took home 10 points but is likewise not nominated to the first Saturday in May.

Irap previously earned four points for finishing second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and another four points for filling that same spot in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3). He garnered another five for his fourth in the Sunland Derby for a grand total of 13 points and spot 24 on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

Total Tap followed in fifth and completing the order of finish were Dilettante, Balandeen, Oxford Lane, Shareholder Value and Wine N Divine. Bronze Age, the 5-2 favorite, was eased rounding the final turn and walked off the track.

Hence took four tries to break his maiden, running seventh at Saratoga, third at Keeneland and a neck second at Churchill Downs as a juvenile. He finally got the job done while making his three-year-old bow on January 16 at Oaklawn Park, then took on stakes rivals in the Southwest. The Kentucky-bred colt could do no better than seventh on that occasion, but the Sunland Derby victory improved his career line to 6-2-1-1, $542,601.

Hence is out of the A.P. Indy mare Floating Island, making him a half-brother to stakes runner-up Conquest Stormy and Ani La, who is herself the dam of Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner Inconclusive.

Floating Island is a half-sister to Canadian Broodmare of the Year Pico Teneriffe, who foaled dual Canadian champion Marchfield; and Musical Minister, dam of Grade 2 hero Minster Eric and granddam of both multiple Grade 1 vixen Devil May Care and Grade/Group 2 victor Regal Ransom.

This is the same black-type rich female family of Grade 1-winning sires Cryptoclearance and Duke of Marmalade.