02/19/2017 7:54PM

My Bikini Fell Off finishes strong in Peppers Pride Handicap

Coady Photography
My Bikini Fell Off, with Ry Eikleberry aboard, launches her winning move in the Peppers Pride Handicap.

The 6-year-old mare My Bikini Fell Off, making just her third start going as far as a mile in her 24-race career, finished fastest of all to win Sunday’s $85,000 Peppers Pride Handicap for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares at Sunland Park.

A year ago in this same one-mile event, My Bikini Fell Off was wide throughout as the 2-1 second choice while finishing a distant fourth, but was disqualified and placed eighth for causing a rival to check on the first turn. Winless in six subsequent starts while sprinting, My Bikini Fell Off returned to a mile to win the local prep for the Peppers Pride last month.

On Sunday, jockey Ry Eikleberry kept My Bikini Fell Off ($11) in fifth place while saving ground behind a contested half-mile split of 46.57 seconds between 4-5 favorite Zasha and last-out allowance winner Mexican Pharoah.

Sunday Rose, who finished a half-length behind My Bikini Fell Off in last month’s prep, made the first move to sweep past the dueling leaders to take a one-length lead through six furlongs in 1:11:67 as Zasha, winner of last year’s Peppers Pride, faded badly, finishing a distant sixth in a field of eight.

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Sunday Rose led into the stretch, challenged first by Desert Stepper and then by My Bikini Fell Off, who raced into contention after swinging seven wide turning for home. My Bikini Fell Off outfinished Sunday Rose by a half-length, completing the distance in 1:38.28. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Desert Stepper, runner-up in this stakes last year as the 9-5 favorite.

A daughter of Elusive Jazz bred and owned by Brian Mundell, and trained by Bart Hone, My Bikini Fell Off is now 8 for 24 lifetime with earnings of $367,342.

In the $85,000 New Mexico Horse Breeders Association Stakes for 3-year-old statebred Quarter Horses, the filly Running Dragon ($2.60) improved her record to 9 for 11 lifetime with an easy 1 1/2-length victory. Ridden by Adrian Ramos for trainer Samuel Robledo, Running Dragon completed 400 yards in 19.431 seconds.