12/08/2007 1:00AM

Sunriver handles Turf Cup - easily

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - The most important stakes victory of Sunriver's career may have been his easiest win. Saturday, in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park, Sunriver took an early lead in the Grade 1 race and never faced a serious challenge, drawing off in early stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths.

Sunriver ($6) ran 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:27.07, a slow time on a course rated good after recent rain.

The easy trip that Sunriver had under jockey Garrett Gomez was a sharp contrast to the trips of Champs Elysees and Spring House, the second- and third-place finishers.

Champs Elysees, making his U.S. debut, was stuck in traffic on the final turn and never seriously challenged Sunriver. Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Champs Elysees closed ground through the stretch once clear.

Spring House, the winner of the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October, had a wide trip for most of the race.

Sunriver raced on the rail throughout. He took the lead a few strides away from the gate and set early fractions of 25.92 and 50.20 seconds while being closely followed by the Heroi Do Bafra and Chief Running Bear.

Heroi Do Bafra got within a head of Sunriver on the backstretch, but that proved to be a short-term threat. Sunriver pulled a length clear of Spring House on the final turn and was clear through the stretch.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for owner-breeders Aaron and Marie Jones, Sunriver, 4, has thrived on turf this season. He won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap in his stakes debut on the surface during the summer.

At 3, Sunriver won the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes in May 2006 and was third in the Belmont Stakes. In his career, Sunriver has won 6 of 17 starts and $816,414. On turf, he has won half of his six starts and $410,014.

The victory gave Pletcher his 56th graded stakes win of 2007, leaving him one shy of equaling the record of 57 graded stakes wins he set in 2006.