03/01/2015 6:47PM

Sanchez, Almanza combine to sweep six-figure stakes

Coady Photography
Ramon Sanchez collects the second of his three stakes wins on the card aboard Moonin the Eagle in the South Florida Quarter Horse Derby.

The long trip from Southern California to Florida was worthwhile for Ramon Sanchez.

Sanchez, who usually rides at Los Alamitos, came to Hialeah Park for the first time on Sunday and teamed up with trainer Rolando Almanza to sweep both $100,000 stakes on the program.

Moonin the Eagle overcame a sluggish break to score by 1 1/4 lengths over 19-1 outsider Louisiana Legends in the South Florida Quarter Horse Derby. In winning for the third time in four starts, Moonin the Eagle ($4.20) covered 440 yards in 21.43 seconds.

“He got off to a bit of a slow start, but he really started running about 100 yards in,” Sanchez said. “ He really kicked away in the final 100 yards.”

One race later, Sanchez gunned Daytona B out of the gate to a 1 1/2-length advantage. The favored Daytona B ($4) held off Jessies First Down by a neck to take the Sam Abbey Invitational for older Quarter Horses in 21.39 seconds.

Almanza and Sanchez also teamed up to win the $22,500 Beautiful Prairie Stakes with 17-1 longshot Sweet N Salty.

The 9-year-old gelding The Star Alert, who ended a 16-month drought when he cruised to an easy victory in the Key West Stakes three weeks ago, duplicated that performance in Sunday's final leg of the Hialeah distance series, the $40,000 Sailfish Stakes at 1,000 yards. Ridden by Yordanis Amaro for trainer Ricardo Martinez, The Star Alert ($3) covered the distance in 52.49 seconds for his ninth lifetime win.