09/04/2005 11:00PM

Sun King overcomes post 14

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTOS
Sun King, under Rafael Bejarano, draws off to a 4 1/2-length victory in Monday's Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.

The outside post in the largest field in the race's 27-year history proved no problem for Sun King, who galloped to a 4 1/2-length victory under Rafael Bejarano in the Grade 2, $750,000 race Monday at Philadelphia Park.

Southern Africa got up for second by a nose over Smokescreen.

Bejarano, only nine days after returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for one month, put up a tremendous ride on Sun King. Breaking from post 14, Bejarano used Sun King's early speed to get into fourth position, only three wide entering the first turn while about four lengths off the early pace.

Sun King remained in fourth down the backside as United ran a half-mile in 46.91 seconds chased by Tani Maru. Tani Maru made the lead entering the far turn, but Sun King quickly pounced, taking over from Tani Maru approaching the quarter pole.

Sun King opened up a clear lead turning for home and was never threatened as he stopped the clock in 1:49.43 for 1 1/8 miles. Sun King, the 7-5 favorite along with entrymate Indy Storm, who finished 11th, returned $4.80 to win.

"When I got to the first turn in good position, two or three lengths back, I said I wanted to save my horse till the half-mile pole," Bejarano said. "At the three-eighths pole I knew I had a lot of horse, so I waited a little bit till the quarter pole, and when I asked my horse again he came on really strong."

Nick Zito, the trainer of Sun King, watched the race from his barn in Saratoga because he wasn't feeling well enough to make the trip. Zito, who won his first race in Philadelphia at now-defunct Liberty Bell Park in 1972, praised Bejarano's ride and also said he was happy that Sun King was living up to the promise many had for him at the beginning of the year.

"He rides his butt off for me, this kid. That's why I use him," Zito said. "Great, great ride. The horse is a terrific horse. On a lot of people's charts, he was the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. It's great to see him put three races together like that."

After finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, Sun King won the Grade 3 Leonard Richards and was second to Roman Ruler in the Grade 1 Haskell before Monday's victory.

It was the fifth victory in 12 career starts for Sun King, a son of Charismatic owned by Tracy Farmer. Sun King has now banked $1,332,150.

* Amazing Buy ($9.40), away from the races since a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland in April, cleared the rest of the field entering the first turn under Harry Vega, and led gate to wire to win the $100,000 Pennsylvania Oaks by one length over odds-on favorite Hide and Chic.

Private Gift was declared a non-starter by the stewards because she hadn't been loaded into the starting gate when starter Russell Downes sprung the latch. Refunds were made on Private Gift, who was the second betting choice at 7-5 at the time.

Amazing Buy, owned by Paraneck Stable and trained by Jennifer Pedersen, covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.19.

* Annika Lass ($26.80) rallied seven wide turning for home under Daniel Velasquez and got up to win the $75,000 Steve Van Buren Handicap by a half-length over Valley of the Gods.