04/04/2015 8:14PM

Az Ridge goes the distance in Wildcat Handicap

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Coady Photography
Az Ridge, with Geovanni Franco aboard, wins the Wildcat Handicap by 6 1/4 lengths Saturday.

PHOENIX, – A new distance and a few former Southern California runners could not derail Az Ridge, who confirmed himself as the top grass stayer at Turf Paradise by easily capturing Saturday’s $35,000 Wildcat Handicap.

Az Ridge ($3.20), owned by Sawyer Cattle Co. and trained by Dan McFarlane, stalked in third as Image of Joplin and Magic D’ Oro volleyed up front in the 1 3/8-mile turf test, moved up easily to challenge those two into the lane under Geovanni Franco, took over and drew off to win in a romp by 6 1/4 lengths as the 3-5 favorite. Image of Joplin held second, with Magic D’ Oro third in the field of seven.

Az Ridge ran the distance in 2:13.91, a course record, and the winner’s share of $21,266 gives him earnings of $358,601 from 12 wins in 37 starts. The Wildcat is the traditional prep for the closing-day Hasta La Vista Handicap. That race, at 1 7/8 miles on turf, is slated for May 5 and figures to be the next target for this 6-year-old son of Toccet, who prior to this had never run beyond 1 1/8 miles.

• Jungle Java overcame trouble to satisfy his many backers, who made him the 3-5 favorite, capturing Saturday’s $36,603 Arizona Stallion Stakes.

Owned by Double Kee LLC and trained by Bobbie Grissom, Jungle Java ($3.20) got bumped at the start of the 7 1/2-furlong turf event for 3-year-old males sired by a nominated stallion standing in Arizona in 2012, sat last early, was boxed in on the far turn, was still boxed in coming into the lane, but found a seam under Skyler White Shield and powered home to get up for the one-length win.

Best Asset stalked, took the lead into the lane, and finished second, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Prospector’s Blues in third in the field of six.

Jungle Java ran the distance in 1:30.35. The winner’s share of $20,335 gives him earnings of $50,100 from two wins in nine starts.