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Phoenix Gold Cup highlights three stakes on Turf Paradise’s Super Saturday card


February 9, 2017     E-mail this page to a friend!

Story by Turf Paradise

The $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup highlights a trio of stakes on Saturday, February 11, on what is billed as Super Saturday at Turf Paradise.

In addition to the Gold Cup, which is celebrating its 61st running at 6 furlongs, are the $30,000 Sun City Handicap at one mile on the turf and the $30,000 Turf Paradise Handicap at 1-1/16 miles, also on the turf. Post time is at 12:40 p.m. local (Mountain) time.

Fan amenities are a free T-shirt to the first 4,000 fans, free Fun Park for the kids, featuring multiple inflatables and face painters and free photos of Turf’s female jockey colony along with meet-n-greet and photo ops.

The Gold Cup (6th race, field of 11)

Immediate attention is drawn to two California shippers; One from the Molly Pearson barn, Alley Boss and the other from leading trainer Robertino Diodoro’s stable, Ankeny Hill recently claimed by the trainer for $32,000 at Santa Anita.

Alley Boss, a lightly raced 4-year-old, has won two of eight starts, his maiden win and a starter allowance test.

Diodoro, who won this race in back-to-back years with Derive (2012) and L.A. Weekend (2013), feels this 7-year-old has more victories in him. Ankeny Hill, winner of five of 31 efforts for $298,205 in earnings to lead all entrants, likes to come from off the pace.

Should Ankeny Hill fail to fire, Diodoro also has entered Alpine Luck, who won three consecutive races locally in 2016.

Competition runs deeper than the two shippers. Shrewd Move has won five of 12 efforts locally; Masterful Stride, who finished fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, won the Hank Mills Stakes in his last start; Saturdaynitelites is a perfect four-for-four at the 6-furlong distance.

The X Factor is New Mexico shipper Chief Cicatriz, undefeated in four lifetime starts. The ‘Chief’ was entered to race in the Hank Mills but scratched due to the off track.

Sun City (4th race, field of 12)

A case could be made for each of the 12 entered. However, there are two questions to ask to start the handicapping process: Was that a fluke by Ronda Rocks (who won the Sun City in 2014) in the Glendale Handicap, when the 12-time winner was sent off the 2-to-1 favorite, contested the lead to the head of the lane and then inexplicably stopped to finish ninth in the field of 11?

Second question: Is Peppy Miller, after winning the Glendale at 12-to-1 odds, back to form? To note: Peppy Miller won this race last year.

Turf Paradise Handicap (7th race, field of 12)

Plenty of turf talent lines up for the 1-1/16 mile test,

Starting with Rock Hard Kowboy, who finished third in this race last year, has five wins locally over the grass along with Jungle Java. Red Zeus, who finished third, beaten a length in the recent Fitzsimmons Mile at 53-to-1, leads all entrants with seven tallies over the turf.

Which brings us to Ten Carat Rock, who also surprised in the Fitzsimmons by winning the race at 17-to-1. Claimed by Troy Smith at Finger Lakes for $5,000, Ten Carat Rock has more than won back is claiming price. Can Ten Carat Rock, a perfect two-for-two on the local lawn, make it a perfect three-for-three?

Then there’s the Jose Silva-trained Increase. The 5-year-old has won six of his last eight starts. He also finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length in an allowance test, his lone start over the local turf. Can he step up into stakes competition?