12/21/2013 7:41PM

Turf Paradise: Az Ridge maintains consistency by taking Hank Mills Sr. Handicap

Coady Photography
Az Ridge, ridden by Kelly Bridges, wins his fourth straight race at Turf Paradise in the Hank Mills Sr. Handicap.

L.A. Weekend may be the reigning horse of the meet at Turf Paradise on the strength of his superb sprint form, but Az Ridge showed again in Saturday’s $35,000 Hank Mills Sr. Handicap he may be the most versatile and possibly best older horse on the circuit as he notched a fourth straight win at the Phoenix track and his fifth in his last six starts.

Owned by the Sawyer Cattle Company and trained by Dan McFarlane, who notched career Thoroughbred win 999 here, Az Ridge stumbled at the start of the mile main track event, sat fifth early, but made a strong early inside move to grab the lead going into the backstretch. He opened up from there under Kelly Bridges and won comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths. Mysterious Soul chased the winner and stayed on to be a clear second, five lengths ahead of Hurricane Lake, who rallied for third in the field of nine. Spanish Jazz, the 8-5 favorite after three wins in four starts, chased the pace but gave way badly, eventually being eased.

Az Ridge ran the distance in 1:38.34 and paid $6.40 as the second choice. The winner’s share of $20,832 gives him earnings of $169,734 from 7 wins in 23 starts. To show his versatility, his last five wins have come at 1 1/16 miles on dirt here, at a mile on dirt here (three times), and at 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt here.