04/23/2016 8:20PM

Scrap Iron's nose hits wire first in Gene Fleming Derby

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Scrap Iron (second from left) rallies from third to prevail under Daniel Vergara in the Gene Fleming Derby.

PHOENIX. – Scrap Iron had been having a tough go of it this year, finishing off the board in his last four starts. However, he moved back in against statebreds and that did the trick as he captured the $50,076 Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby at Turf Paradise on Saturday, the marquee event on a five-stakes Arizona-Bred Day.

Owned by Roger Downes and trained by Kevin Eikleberry, Scrap Iron ($9.60), a gelded son of Informed, stalked in third as Heber set a solid pace in the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds, remained there to the top of the lane, was asked for run by rider Daniel Vergara, went after Heber, and gamely got up to edge that rival by a nose. Heber, who ran big in defeat, finished well clear of 4-5 favorite Two the Punch, who stalked the pace, swung wide into the lane, and ended up third in the field of six.

Scrap Iron ran the distance in 1:44.98. The winner’s share of $26,603 gives him earnings of $40,844 from three wins in eight starts.

In other stakes action:

Lieutenant Margie ($2.60) dominated the $26,326 Joanne Dye for 3-year-old fillies. Sent off the overwhelming favorite in the 6 1/2-furlong event, Lieutenant Margie, a daughter of Margie’s Wild, went right to the lead under David Lopez and expanded her margin as the field turned for home, eventually winning by 11 1/2 lengths for owners Kevin Eikleberry and Kent Kunz. She’s also trained by Eikleberry. She ran the distance in 1:15.64. Jovial Jewel ran on for second, well ahead of Epic Style, who was third in the field of five.

Red Zeus ($3.60) couldn’t handle Rocked Twice when fifth to that foe in the Turf Paradise Handicap on Feb. 13, but he was freshened and turned the tables in the $26,325 Dwight D. Patterson Handicap, winning it for the second straight year.

Owned by Peggy Thompson and trained by Dan McFarlane, the 6-year-old Red Zeus, a gelded son of Red Sky, stalked in fourth early in the about 1 1/16-mile grass event for 3-year-olds and upward, steadily advanced under Scott Stevens, came out into the lane, and finished resolutely to win by a half-length. Rocked Twice was a game second, well clear of Cavour in third in the field of five.

Red Zeus ran the distance in 1:41.33.

J P Rocker ($4.80), claimed for just $20,000 when second here April 4, moved back up in class and validated the judgment of new trainer J.J. Kruljac by capturing the $26,325 Lyman and Bradley Rollins Handicap. The 5-year-old J P Rocker, a gelded son of Rocky Bar, ran fifth in this event last year but apparently Kruljac and owner Andy Spitalny claimed him at the right time as under Jake Barton he shot right out to a clear lead in the six-furlong event for 3-year-olds and upward, set fast splits, opened up into the lane, and didn’t have any worries thereafter, winning by six lengths.

Jamaican Memories, winner of this last year and the 4-5 favorite after winning the meet’s biggest event, the Phoenix Gold Cup last time out Feb. 13, chased in the second throughout and just managed to fend off Midnight Officer by a neck for second in the field of five.

J P Rocker ran the distance in 1:08.08.

Camille ($8.20) used her speed and her guts to capture the $27,000 Ann Owens Distaff Handicap. Owned and trained by Tomas Hinojosa, she ran third in this race last year but in this year’s edition of the six-furlong event for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up, she went right to the lead under Jose Rivera Sr., was hounded from the start by Mobiledixie, battled gamely with that rival every step of the way, and showed her courage to remain a neck in front at the wire. Mobiledixie ran big in defeat, battling the winner all way around while also gamely holding second, a nose ahead of hard-trying Dance Affair in third. Myrna Lou, the 6-5 favorite was never a factor, finishing seventh in the field of eight.

Camille, a daughter of Rocky Bar, ran the distance in 1:09.50.