Texas bred Hi Teck Man emerged with the lead in mid-stretch and held favored Consecrate at bay to register a stunning 46-1 upset by a half-length in Sunday's $500,000 WinStar Derby for 3-year-olds at Sunland Park in New Mexico.
Local jockey Ricardo Jaime, who began his career in Southern California, enjoyed the biggest win of his career in Saturday's $250,000 WinStar Sunland Park Oaks. He topped that victory with Sunday's surprise.
"It's unbelievable," said Jaime of his Oaks/Derby double. "It's really, really a dream for me."
The winner paid $94.60, $33.69 and $12.40 in yet another remarkable upset on this season's Triple Crown trail.
A chestnut colt by Claudius–Missy Cherub (by Corwyn Bay), Hi Teck Man raced without blinkers for the first time. He has not been off the board in nine career starts for owner and breeder Hassel R. or Bonnie V. Spraberry and trainer Johnnie Nall.
But in a field filled with promising Southern California sophomores, Hi Teck Man, who won the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:43 1/5, was completely overlooked. Consecrate, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Javier Santiago, was the 2-1 favorite in the field of 10. New Mexico-bred Rocky Gulch was third, followed by Victory Light, who was ridden by Pat Day.
The speedster Hosco, ridden by Roberto Gonzalez, went to the front early as expected and set lively fractions, of :22 4/5 and :46. On the far turn, Victory Light, forwardly placed throughout by Day, edged to the front as Rocky Gulch and Hi Teck Man moved into position for the stretch run.
Hi Teck Man, who is not nominated for the Triple Crown, came on best of all to get the lead and opened up a clear advantage in the final sixteenth of a mile. It was enough to hold off Consecrate, who came on well to finish 1 1/2 lengths ahead of the top local hope Rocky Gulch, ridden by Michael D. Clark.
"I just pushed my little horse in the beginning to get into position," Jaime said. "And then he kept coming and coming and coming."
Hi Teck Man had battled on the lead with Rocky Gulch in his most recent start, the Borderland Derby at Sunland on Feb. 29, before being passed by Go Kitty Go in the stretch, finishing third. He was more relaxed this time, although wide near the rear of the field on the clubhouse turn. He settled in mid-pack while off the rail for the run down the backstretch, advancing while four wide on the home turn.
He's now won six of nine career starts with a pair of seconds and a third. The winner's share, $270,000, increased his earnings to $396,441.
Like the winner, Consecrate, who ran third in the San Rafael (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park at odds of 44-1 in his last start March 6, also shed blinkers for Sunday's race.
Rocky Gulch was stuck between horses while three wide when making his move and was bumped by Victory Light. He recovered to challenge Hi Teck Man briefly in the stretch, but flattened out late.
Teton Forest, a promising youngster owned by B. Wayne Hughes who finished sixth for Baffert, Perfect Moon, who was ninth, and Hosco, who faded to last, turned in disappointing efforts.
Consecrate returned $4 and $3.40. Rocky Gulch's show was $5. The $2 exacta was worth $495.20.
A race earlier, 3-5 favorite Jonnygetachex won the $102,950 New Mexico Breeder's Derby for 3-year-old state-breds at a mile. Ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Joel H. Marr, Jonnygetachex, by Tilt the Odds, went gate-to-wire to defeat Youareaggravatin' by 1 3/4 lengths while paying $3.20 win. The victory was worth $61,770 to owner Bill H. Kirkes.