Sent to post as the 8-5 favorite, Dennis Drazin's homebred Sunny Ridge got the job done in Saturday's Grade 3 Salvator Mile. The 6-year-old son of Holy Bull defeated second choice Diamond King by about three-quarters of a length at the wire, earning his first graded win since 2016. Jose Lezcano piloted the Jason Servis trainee through the mile over Monmouth's fast main track in 1:37.17.
“Once he made his move he really took off,” said Servis. “I told (owner) Dennis Drazin one of these days they're going to come back to him and he's going to win a really big race. He has been so close so many times. He's a poor man's horse. He bangs away every race and makes money. I never even thought about him as Jersey-bred. When I got him as a 2-year-old I told Dennis I am going to make $1 million with this horse. Look at him. He's a big, beautiful horse. And he's a gelding so he could have another good three years in him. He might hit $2.5 million. I'm thrilled to death with his performance.”
Jeezum Jim challenged Diamond King for the lead and took command around the clubhouse turn, setting fractions of :23.45 and :46.82. Hoffenheim and Sunny Ridge tracked the pace in unison, and Lezcano kept his mount on the rail in the far turn. A hole opened up as Diamond King moved out a bit on the bend, and Lezcano sent Sunny Ridge right through. After a short battle, Sunny Ridge took over and held on to cross the wire three-quarters of a length in front. Diamond King held second while the slow-starting Bal Harbour got up for third.
“He broke running so I took him in hand a little bit and tried to get him to settle in,” said Lezcano. “He really settled in nicely. He's a quality horse. Sometimes it takes him a while to get into stride because he's such a big horse but when he gets running he can be really good. I waited as long as I could to make my move and when I saw an opening on the rail I asked him to go. He's such a strong horse. He's a Jersey-bred but he shows good horses can come from anywhere.”
Bred in New Jersey by his owner, Sunny Ridge is out of the placed Songandaprayer mare Lignum Vitae. He placed in the G1 Champagne and the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot as a juvenile, and won the G3 Withers in his first start as a sophomore. Sunny Ridge ran third in the G1 Haskell later that year, and has consistently placed in graded stakes company throughout his career. Overall, the gelding's record stands a 7-6-5 from 25 starts with earnings of over $1.3 million.
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