10/11/2008 12:00AM

Longshot 'Sunshine' wires field


ELMONT, N.Y. - When looking for races in which to run Sunshine for Life, trainer Richard Schosberg believes the longer the better. But when a 10-furlong overnight stakes race failed to fill earlier this month, Schosberg was left with little choice but to run his filly in the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

It seems like Sunshine for Life can run short as well. Left alone on the lead three jumps out of the gate, Sunshine for Life cruised around Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course and registered a half-length victory over the late-running Criticism in the $110,300 Athenia. It was two lengths back to 3-5 favorite Criminologist in third.

At 23-1, Sunshine for Life was the longest shot on the board in the field of seven, and she returned $49 to win. Schosberg could have run Sunshine for Life in a third-level allowance race Friday at 1 1/16 miles, but opted to take a shot at the graded stakes.

"This is a quality filly and she proved it today," said Schosberg, who trains Sunshine for Life for his mother, Jane, who bought the filly as a weanling for $385,000. "I knew turning for home she was going to be one-two, that's how tough she is and how good she was training."

Winning rider Channing Hill said his filly was so relaxed leaving the gate that he wasn't sure he was going to make the lead as planned.

"So I gave her a little chirp to see how much they would go with me, and no one really wanted to go," Hill said. "I thought, 'I'll walk 'em around there, I'll show 'em the way to the finish line.' "

Sunshine for Life, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, got away with fractions of 24.50 seconds, 48.34, 1:12.16, 1:35.49, and covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.55 over firm turf.

Schosberg said he would likely point Sunshine for Life to the Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap at 1 1/2 miles at Aqueduct on Nov. 1.

Edgar Prado, the rider of Criminologist, said his mare did not feel as comfortable being on the inside of horses as she does when she's outside and in the clear.