08/11/2007 12:00AM

Dead Red lights up the board


MIAMI - On a day full of surprises, Dead Red pulled off the biggest shocker of them all when he ran down the nationally ranked sprinter Mach Ride in late stretch to post a three-quarter-length decision in Calder's $250,000 Turf Sprint Championship Handicap on Saturday.

Dead Red, a former $12,500 claimer, paid $143.20 while giving trainer George Mikhalides his first stakes victory in the United States and jockey Ray Fuentes the first stakes win of his career.

Dead Red, a 4-year-old son of Out of Place, benefited from a perfect ride by Fuentes, saving ground around the turn before easing out and running down Mach Ride inside the sixteenth pole. Mach Ride, the 2-1 favorite despite racing on grass for the first time, controlled the pace from along the hedge and was well clear turning for home, but could not resist the winner. Mach Ride held off Lord Robyn by a half-length to finish second. Dead Red ran the five furlongs on turf in 55.76.

Dead Red, owned by Mikhalides along with the Milena Stable and Mirage Ranch, entered the race with just $44,554 in career earnings, but picked up a paycheck of $148,800 for his third career victory.

"I claimed this horse about a year ago for $16,000 because I believed in his pedigree for the turf," said Mikhalides, who came to this country four years ago after a successful 20-year career training horses in France. "He had some foot issues after we got him, but once I put him on grass he's improved with every race."

Trainer Steve Standridge said he was pleased with Mach Ride's performance even in defeat, and noted that he learned a thing or two from the race.

"The good thing is we got him a race he needed and we're on target for the Vosburgh," Standridge said, referring to the Grade 1 sprint at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. "One thing I know for sure after watching this race is that I'll have to put some holes in his blinkers. I thought eventually I might have to do it, but it was obvious today. It looked like he got to loafing on the lead, but then he came on good again just to save second once he finally saw that other horse."

Distaff: Flying Circle beats 'Sidney'

Flying Circle was the first of three upset winners in the afternoon's four stakes races when she finished full of run to defeat defending champion Unbridled Sidney by three-quarters of a length in the $250,000 Distaff Turf Sprint Championship. Smitty's Sunshine, the even-money favorite, finished another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Flying Circle, second in four of her previous five starts and winless since 2005, dropped back in the pack after being bumped and squeezed at the start. She swung wide while commencing her bid into the stretch, then rallied strongly down the middle of the course to catch the leader in the final strides. Unbridled Sidney controlled the pace and resisted a bid from Smitty's Sunshine through much of the stretch, but could not withstand the winner's closing surge.

Smitty's Sunshine, who brought a six-race win streak into the Distaff Turf Sprint, bumped with the winner after the start, chased the pace from along the hedge, and slipped inside the leader to challenge in early stretch before faltering near the end.

Flying Circle was the first of two consecutive winners on the card for jockey Manuel Aguilar. She ran five furlongs in 56.23 seconds and returned $11.80.

"This win ended a lot of frustrations for us with this mare," said David Fawkes, who trains Flying Circle for owner-breeder Walter New. "In the prep she was lugging in a little and the rider had to fight her a little, and that might have cost her the win. She just needs to make one run, and everything worked out perfectly today."

Desert Vixen: Silk Ridge edges clear

Aguilar came right back to register an even bigger upset aboard Silk Ridge ($28.80) in the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes, the opening leg of the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Silk Ridge, in tight quarters early, tracked the dueling leaders to the stretch, gained a short advantage nearing the eighth pole, then edged clear to post a 1 1/4-length decision over Calico Bay, who rallied from last to finish second. Bond Princess, the 3-5 favorite, was roughed after the start, angled inside to loom a threat at midstretch, but could not sustain the bid while finishing another three-quarters of a length back in third.

Silk Ridge, a son of Eltish, is trained by Gordon Potter for owner Karen Keen. Her final time for six furlongs was 1:13.64 over a fast but cuppy track.

"We kind of expected more from her last time, but she had a shin bother her a little in the race," Potter said, referring to Silk Ridge's fifth-place finish in the J j'sdream Stakes.

Dr. Fager: Big City Man scores

Big City Man ($3.60) finally ended the string of stakes upsets when he rallied to a 2 1/4-length triumph over the 16-1 Wise Answer in the $100,000 Dr. Fager division of the Stallion Stakes.

Big City Man bore out a bit while rallying into the stretch before overtaking the tiring leaders en route to his third consecutive win. Wise Answer saved ground, then eased out and rallied for second in a field of 11 colts and geldings. Big City Man ran six furlongs in 1:12.46.

Elvis Trujillo rode Big City Man for trainer Jose Pinchin and the Mr. T Stables.