11/27/2009 12:00AM

Rahystrada a River City stunner


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rahystrada looked terrific in winning a turf allowance last month at Keeneland, but did anyone really notice? Apparently not.

Dismissed as the second-longest shot at 56-1 in a field of 10 older horses in the River City Handicap, Rahystrada made pretty much everyone look silly with a dominating score in the secondary feature on the Clark Handicap card at Churchill Downs.

With Leandro Goncalves riding for Lexington-based trainer Byron Hughes, Rahystrada returned $115.80 after winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Rahy's Attorney in the 32nd running of the . The winner finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.18 over a firm turf course.

Rahy's Attorney, the Canadian millionaire turf runner, finished second, a nose before Pleasant Strike. Wicked Style was fourth, while his Rusty Arnold-trained stablemate Karelian, the 8-5 favorite, faltered to be eighth.

Rahystrada stalked the pace, laying fifth through the early going while saving ground. When the field fanned for home he suddenly burst to the lead, then drew clear without being threatened.

"I had a very good trip," said Goncalves, a 27-year-old Brazilian.

The win was the biggest for Goncalves since he recorded his richest career score aboard Satans Quick Chick in the Grade 2, $300,000 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 24.

Karelian led early, surrendered the top when bearing out badly on the backstretch, then re-entered contention with a second surge before tiring. "After he went around that turn, obviously he was done," said Arnold.

Rahystrada, a 5-year-old Rahy gelding owned by Robert E. Courtney Jr., now has won 8 of 22 starts, with the River City easily his biggest win. Two starts back, he was fourth in a $50,000 claiming race at Mountaineer Park before drawing clear with a flair to win an Oct. 24 classified turf allowance at Keeneland at 15-1.

Predictably, Rahystrada keyed huge mutuels. The $2 exacta paid $755, the $2 trifecta paid $6,127.60, and the $2 superfecta paid $61,447.60.