11/28/2015 8:03PM

Az Ridge stays hot with win in Cluer Memorial

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Az Ridge wins the Walter R. Cluer Stakes by a neck Saturday at Turf Paradise.

PHOENIX – Az Ridge, last season’s Horse of the Meet at Turf Paradise when winning three stakes, picked right up where he left off as the 6-year-old gelding gamely captured Saturday’s $35,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial.

Az Ridge ($4.80), owned by the Sawyer Cattle Company and trained by Dan McFarlane, stumbled at the start to be well back early in the mile turf event named in honor of the track’s founder. He steadily advanced under Andrew Ramgeet, swung out into the lane, and finished gamely to get up and win by a neck despite his rider having the whip knocked from his hand at the sixteenth pole. Ride Hard Kowboy chased the pacesetter Bourbon Sense from the start, got the better of that foe to take the lead by midstretch, but couldn’t quite fend off the winner. Empire Knight rallied well for third, just a neck back in the field of 10.

Az Ridge ran the distance in 1:36.28, and the winner’s share of $20,615 gives him earnings of $479,741 from 15 wins in 43 starts. He figures to target the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile on this course at this same trip Jan. 16.

Ramgeet swept the two stakes as he guided Hip Ninety Three to a 22-1 upset in the $35,000 Queen of the Green Stakes earlier on the card. Hip Ninety Three ($46.80), owned by Brent Stapley, Linden Hatch, and Delwyn Ellis and trained by F.C. Frazier, bided her time in the mile grass test for distaffers, remained well back turning for home, but surfaced late to get up for the three-quarter-length win. Enlightened rallied for second, a nose ahead of Aware in third in the field of eight. Our Pure Creation, the 6-5 favorite, pressed the pace, took the lead turning for home, but weakened to finish fourth.

Hip Ninety Three ran the distance in 1:37.42, and the winner’s share of $21,049 gives her earnings of $66,990 from four wins in 12 starts. The Glendale Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf Jan. 16 is her likely next target.