Sunland Park, NM (SportsNetwork.com) - Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent a pair of runners to the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby on Sunday and came away with the win as Chitu got the best of stablemate Midnight Hawk in the $800,000 stakes at Sunland Park.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Chitu broke sharply from the far outside post in the nine-horse field. The chestnut colt raced third up the backstretch pressing the pace being set by Garen and Midnight Hawk.
Around the final turn, Chitu gained ground from the outside joining Midnight Hawk on the lead. The two stablemates were together on the lead at the top of the stretch until Chitu began to edge away.
Chitu, the 19-10 favorite, drove through the stretch and posted a 2 1/4-length victory over Midnight Hawk, the 2-1 second pick. Finishing third was 7-2 third choice Commissioner followed by Rebranded, Bourbonize, Global Strike, Garen, Tanzanite Cat and Lawly's Goal.
The time for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track was 1:47.88.
Winning the Sunland Derby was worth 50 qualifying points for Chitu to start in the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Chitu, owned by Tanma Corp., gained $400,000 with the win and has now won three of four career starts with a second for $501,800.
The colt won his first two starts last December before finishing just a half- length behind Candy Boy last month at Santa Anita in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Midnight Hawk had finished third in the race.
Bob Baffert notched his third Sunland Derby victory. He won last year with Govenor Charlie, ridden by Garcia, and in 2006 with Wanna Runner.
Chitu returned $5.80, $3.20 and $2.20. Midnight Hawk paid $3.40 and $2.40, and Commissioner paid $3.00 to show.