El Paso, TX — Under a cool ride from jockey Irwin Rosendo, Reaper gained his third career stakes win with a courageous come from behind win in the $85,000 Pepsi Cola Stakes at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Reaper returned to his favorite distance of 6 furlongs in the New Mexico-bred stakes race for three year-olds. The gelded son of Attila’s Storm was unbeaten in one-turn sprint races last year having scored lucrative wins in the Mountain Top Futurity at Ruidoso Downs and the New Mexico Classic Cup Juvenile at Zia Park.
In the Pepsi Cola, Reaper raced off a torrid pace set by Infinite Bull who roared through early fractions of 20.99 and 43.98 seconds for the first two calls. Rosendo found an opening for Reaper passing the quarter mile marker, and the well decorated stakes winner dove towards the rail on the inside of Infinite Bull. Reaper continued to find his best strides through the stretch and held safe at the wire to win a driving finish by a half-length. The winning 2-1 favorite paid $6.20 to win and clocked the distance in a fast 1:10.10. Former Kentucky rider Rosendo completed a great day winning three races.
Reaper returned to winner’s circle following two third place finishes going one mile in both the Eddy County and the Red Hedeman Mile Sunday’s win was sweet vindication for the leading New Mexico-bred three-year-old Thoroughbred. He has won 4 of 6 races overall for owner R.D. Hubbard of Pal Desert, California. The Pepsi Cola win was worth an impressive $51,000. Reaper has earned over a quarter million dollars in his brilliant career. Reaper is out of the fine stakes placed mare Hang Glide.
Zia Park maiden winner Infinite Bull ran the race of his young life under jockey Duane Sterling. The 10-1 upstarts set a ferocious pace and still held on gamely in deep stretch to finish second. The runner-up earned $18,700 for the Tucumcari Thoroughbreds. The runner-up finished one and one-half lengths in front of 5-2 second choice D E Lover. The latter ridden by Larry Gamez got away slowly and gradually moved into a contending third place position. He failed to muster a rally in deep stretch and remained in third place.
Dandy Don Who finished well back in fourth and completed at $1 superfecta worth $555.40.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. The $50,000 KOFX Radio Handicap at 350 yards is the featured 6th race. 2012 West Texas Derby winner Tf Featured Effort and multiple stakes winner Bet on Ballou are some of the headliners.
Saturday afternoon was a big day for former $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) Derby winners in America. 2012 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner Daddy Nose Best closed from far back to win the Colonel Bradley Handicap on the turf at the Fair Grounds under jockey Rose Napravnik. Daddy Nose Best has won five of his last six races and is closing in on millionaire status for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The 2013 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) winner Govenor Charlie ran a terrific second in the $200,000 Strub Stakes (Gr. III) at Santa Anita Park. The son of Midnight Lute was last seen running in the 2013 Preakness last May and was well prepared by trainer Bob Baffert who won the race with stable mate Shakin It Up. The latter finished fourth to Govenor Charlie in last year’s Sunland Derby (Gr. III) and was coming off a win in the Malibu (Gr. I) at Santa Anita.