03/28/2009 11:00PM

Kelly Leak snags Sunland's $100K bonus


Kelly Leak rolled past a hot pace under a first-rate ride from New Mexico native Mike Smith to win the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on Sunday, as well as a $100,000 bonus for having graded earnings coming into the race. The Sunland Derby was the richest Thoroughbred stakes ever run in New Mexico. It shared a card with four other stakes, the races worth a cumulative $1.5 million on what was the richest program of the meet at Sunland.

Mystical Power finished 1 1/2 lengths back in second in the 12-horse field, while it was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third to Scorewithcater.

Kelly Leak ($6.60) settled in seventh early as Santamonicacanyon, Mayor Marv, and Valid Stripes dueled through fractions of 22.07 seconds for the opening quarter, 45.32 for the half-mile, and 1:10.12 for six furlongs. Kelly Leak began to pick up steam on the final turn, took over in the stretch, and went on to cover 1 1/8 miles on a track rated fast in 1:50.02.

"I saw him coming out of the turn and it looked like Mike was loaded," said Mike Machowsky, who trains Kelly Leak. "He ran awesome. He ran really well."

The win was the first in a stakes for Kelly Leak, who last year had finished first in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar but was placed fourth for interference. The graded earnings he picked up in that race enabled him to be eligible for a new bonus that Sunland tied to its derby this year with the hopes of attracting the kind of horses that will earn the race graded status.

Kelly Leak came into the Sunland Derby off a first-level allowance win on turf at Santa Anita. He has now won 3 of 8 starts and $621,890. Blahut Stable is majority owner of Kelly Leak, who won his first two-turn dirt race in the Sunland Derby. He is a son of Runaway Groom.

"I'm not quite sure what we want to do next, but we definitely plan on keeping him on the dirt," said Machowsky. "There are so many more opportunities for him right now."

Kelly Leak, who is not nominated to the Triple Crown, was scheduled to fly back to his Southern California base Monday.

* Sunland handled $2,690,130 on its 13-race card from all sources. Attendance at the track was 16,338.