02/11/2017 8:29PM

Chief Cicatriz scores as front-running favorite in Phoenix Gold Cup

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The 4-year-old Chief Cicatriz, making his first start outside New Mexico, wins the Phoenix Gold Cup under Daniel Vergara.

PHOENIX. – Chief Cicatriz proved his speed show plays as well on the road as it does in New Mexico as he came to Turf Paradise on Saturday and led all the way to capture the meet’s marquee event, the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup.

Owned by Roy Gene Evans and trained by Shawn Davis, Chief Cicatriz ($5.60) won his first four career starts in New Mexico. The Gold Cup was not only the first start outside of New Mexico for the 4-year-old gelded son of Munnings, it was his first start in a couple months, having last won the KLAQ Stakes at Sunland Park on Dec. 17. In the six-furlong Gold Cup, he broke sharply from his outside post under Daniel Vergara. Chief Cicatriz held a narrow lead over Southern California raider Ankeny Hill through solid splits of 22.64 and 44.64 seconds, dispatched with that foe into the lane, opening up a clear lead and holding it to the wire, winning by 1 1/2 lengths.

 Saturdaynitelites, one of the prime local hopes, sat mid-pack and finished well for second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Ankeny Hill, who tired to finish third. Alley Boss, another Southern California invader, ducked into the gap from his rail slot to be last early but ran on well to be fourth in the field of 11.

In five races now, Chief Cicatriz has only been headed once at a margin call, that when second behind a rival at the first margin call of the KLAQ. He ran the distance in 1:09.47 and the winner’s share of $43,710 gives him earnings of $126,810 while winning all five career starts.

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Davis said they want to see how good Chief Cicatriz really is so their next target is the six-furlong Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park on March 11.

Kera Kera upsets Sun City Handicap

Saturday’s $30,000 Sun City Handicap was generally viewed as a rematch among several who battled in last month’s Glendale Handicap here, but it was Kera, returning to grass and to routing who posted the upset.

Kera Kera ($29.20), a daughter of Sharp Humor owned and trained by Satchell Stevens and ridden by Jake Barton, had won one of three prior grass starts and returned to the turf after two good optional-claiming dirt sprints here, winning Dec. 26 and running second Jan. 14. Despite the presence of other speed, her sprint speed proved superior as she shot out to a clear lead, leading by as much a five lengths going down the backstretch, in the mile race for fillies and mares, set a solid pace, and while the field got a bit closer she never really had an anxious moment, winning by 3 1/4 lengths while geared down. Ronda Rocks, the 2-1 favorite, broke second and stayed there through, chasing the winner all the way around, holding the place by a neck over the rallying Detail. Peppy Miller, who beat many of these in the Glendale on Jan. 14, rallied from far back to be fourth in the field of 11.

Kera Kera ran the distance in 1:36.44 and the winner’s share of $17,484 gives her earnings of $169,348 from 10 wins in 30 starts. She’s now 2 for 4 on grass.

Aventador connects at 17-1 in Turf Paradise Handicap

Aventador ($36.20) found room in the lane, blasted through, and drew off to easily capture the $30,000 Turf Paradise Handicap.

Owned by Mark Staudacher and trained by Kathy Schenk, Aventador, a 6-year-old gelded son of Zafeen, stalked the early pace in the 1 1/16-mile turf race while inside, remained inside and boxed in on the far turn, found a seam further inside in midstretch, shot through under Jorge Bourdieu, and opened up to post the upset by 2 1/4 lengths. Ten Carat Rock, the 2-1 favorite, stalked alongside the eventual winner, rallied with that foe in midstretch but couldn’t keep up in the final half-furlong while holding second by a length over the rallying Arizona Moon. Ride Hard Kowboy, the 4-1 second choice, sat mid-pack but was basically one-paced throughout, finishing fifth in the field of 12.

Aventador ran the distance in 1:41.94 and the winner’s share of $17,298 gives him a bankroll of $232,918 from 8 wins in 34 starts.