10/02/2016 7:37PM

Ashleyluvssugar preps for BC Turf with John Henry win

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Benoit & Associates
Ashleyluvssugar's win in the John Henry on Sunday was his second straight win in a Grade 2 race.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ashleyluvssugar solidified his position as California’s leading hope for the Breeders’ Cup Turf next month with a hard-fought win in Sunday’s $201,725 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita.

The Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship was Ashleyluvssugar’s second consecutive win in a Grade 2 race. He earned a fees-paid berth to the BC Turf with a nose win in the Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 20.

Trained by Peter Eurton for the partnership of Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Joe Ciaglia, Ashleyluvssugar will be a longshot in the BC Turf here Nov. 5 against a field of shippers from throughout the United States and Europe.

Ashleyluvssugar does have a home-turf advantage. In the John Henry at 1 1/4 miles, Ashleyluvssugar ($8.80) prevailed by a half-length over 14-1 Texas Ryano.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Ashleyluvssugar was always near the front, stalking the longshot pacesetter El Huerfano through the first half-mile. Ashleyluvssugar took the lead in early stretch and led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go. Texas Ryano closed from eighth in the final furlong to be closest to the front at the wire.

Ashleyluvssugar was timed in 1:58.35.

“This is his kind of track,” Eurton said. “It’s a little biased for speed.”

Twentytwentyvision closed from fourth to finish third, a half-length in front of Metaboss, the 5-2 favorite. Metaboss was last of 10 with a furlong to go, and closed well with a wide run.

A Red Tie Day finished fifth, followed by Ralis, Wanstead Gardens, Flamboyant, El Huerfano, and Messi.

Ashleyluvssugar has won four stakes since the start of 2015, all at Santa Anita in Grade 2 races. He won the Charles Whittingham Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf in May 2015.

A 5-year-old, Ashleyluvssugar has won 8 of 17 starts and has earned $847,504.

Stevens said the BC Turf will be worth a try with Ashleyluvssugar.

“We’re stepping up in class, but he loves the track and he loves a mile and a half,” Stevens said. “This wasn’t a taxing race on him.”