Frank Sumpter’s homebred Wild On Ice outdueled a determined late challenger and got clear in the closing strides to collect the $600,000 Sunland Derby (G3) as the longest shot in the field Sunday at Sunland Park in New Mexico.
Sent off at 35-1 odds and ridden by veteran Ken Tohill, Wild On Ice tracked from third through six furlongs, then went six wide through the second turn before snatching the lead in upper stretch. He shook off a strong bid from Low Expectations and powered across the finish line 1 1/4 lengths clear of that rival, who was the second-longest shot at 21-1 odds.
Henry Q, who sprinted out to lead early, could not withstand the rallies from Wild On Ice to his outside and Low Expectations to his inside, and concluded third in the six-horse field. Favorite Hard to Figure pressed Henry Q through the opening quarter mile before leading briefly into the home turn but had no closing kick and faded to last.
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Trained by Joel Marr, Wild On Ice returned $72.80 after covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.39 on a fast track.
It was the first career graded stakes win for both Marr and Tohill, the latter having ridden since 1979.
The Sunland Park Derby is a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and provided points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale to the top five finishers, respectively, toward eligibility for the May 6 classic at Churchill Downs. Wild On Ice was not nominated to the Triple Crown but his connections can submit a late nomination at a cost of $6,000 on March 27.
The Sunland Park Derby triumph marked the first in a stakes for Wild On Ice, who was third in the Mine That Bird Derby Feb. 28 following a ninth-place finish in the Riley Allison Derby Jan. 29, both at Sunland Park, but Texas-bred Tapizar gelding was ready for a breakthrough and dug in when challenged to notch the lucrative win Sunday.
Wild On Ice, who is out of the Grand Slam mare Slamitagain, won for the third time from five career starts and boosted his overall earnings to $405,400 with the $356,400 winner’s share of the Sunland Park Derby purse.
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