07/04/2013 4:14PM

Finger Lakes: Shades of Sugar cruises as heavy favorite in Niagara

Tom Cooley Photography
Shades of Sugar carries Gabriel Suarez to his third victory on the card in the Niagara for 3-year-old New York-bred fillies.

The only time in her brief racing career that Shades of Sugar has lost came on a sloppy track, when she finished second on June 13. But she certainly didn’t mind the muddy surface she was asked to race on Thursday at Finger Lakes.

Sent to the front by jockey Gabriel Suarez, Shades of Sugar ($3.50) clicked off fractions of 21.55 and 45.03 seconds en route to a convincing 5 3/4-length victory in the $50,000 Niagara Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies.

It was the third win on the holiday card for Suarez and the third Niagara victory for trainer Jonathan Buckley, who previously won back-to-back runnings of the six-furlong stakes in 1999 and 2000. Shades of Sugar ran the distance on a muddy, sealed track in 1:11.80 for her third win in four lifetime starts.

A daughter of Big Brown owned by Skyline Stables, Shades of Sugar began her career in April at Santa Anita, where she was claimed out of am 8 ½-length victory for $40,000.

City Gone Wild, making her first start off a $30,000 claim by Gary Contessa, was easily second best. It was a gap of 5 ¾ lengths back to Alpha J, who nosed out Berkshire Hills for third.