02/18/2012 6:36PM

Turf Paradise: Derive barely outduels Absolutely Cool in Phoenix Gold Cup

Shawn Coady/Coady Photography
Derive gets up by a nose over Absolutely Cool to capture the Phoenix Gold Cup.

Derive’s love affair with Turf Paradise hit a crescendo Saturday as the 6-year-old captured the meet’s marquee event, the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup, to make it five wins in as many starts over the Phoenix track. But it wasn’t easy.

A son of Cozzene owned by Rick Wiest and trained by Robertino Diodoro, Derive had shown promise in Southern California a few years ago but his career didn’t take off until he came to Turf Paradise last fall. Under regular rider Jorge Carreno Derive had to work hard in the six-furlong stakes. He stalked the early pace of Absolutely Cool, went up to challenge that rival going to the far turn, and from there the battle was joined. Derive and Absolutely Cool  went at it toe-to-toe the rest of the way, with Derive just prevailing by a nose over Absolutely Cool, who had also finished third to him in the Swift here Jan. 28.

Saratoga Boot, second to Derive in the Jan. 28 Swift Stakes, was actually the 6-5 favorite. He sat midpack and made steady progress to get third in the field of nine, though he was never a threat in what was basically a two-horse race.

Derive ran the distance in 1:08.69 and paid $5.40 as the second choice. The winner’s share of $44,640 gives him career earnings of $212,288 from 7 wins in 21 starts. He pretty much clinched horse of the meet honors with this win.

All Saint repeats in Turf Paradise Handicap

All Saint, last season’s horse of the meet by virtue of four straight stakes wins, including the Turf Paradise Handicap, used his speed to successfully defend his title in the $35,000 race.

Owned by Pascual Gamez and trained by Wilton Whitehouse, the 6-year-old All Saint dueled early with Briartic County in the 1 1/16-mile grass event, wrested the lead from that foe going to the backside, opened up a commanding lead into the lane, and held sway, winning by 1 3/4 lengths under Michael Iammarino. Grandpa Roy stalked in third and kept to his task to finish a clear second. Double Shuffle finished third in the field of six. Eldaafer, the 6-5 favorite who invaded from Southern California after facing graded stakes company, was last much of the way, made a mild move into the lane but flattened out, finishing a well-beaten fourth.

All Saint ran the distance in 1:43.06 and paid $6.60 as the second choice. The winner’s share of $21,483 pushes his career earnings to $276,099 from 8 wins in 31 starts.

Hard Seven turns tables in Sun City

Hard Seven couldn’t handle Rare Sunset in the Glendale on grass here Jan. 28 but the daughter of Rock Hard Ten turned the tables, capturing the $35,000 Sun City Handicap at a mile on the turf.

Owned by John Campo III and trained by Dan McFarlane, Hard Seven chased pacesetter Mundy early, took over on the far turn, opened up a clear lead, and held sway to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Cell Line Forever rallied for second, a neck in front of Rare Sunset, the 6-5 favorite, who stalked and ran third in the field of nine.

Hard Seven ran the distance under Glen Corbett in 1:36.54. She paid $5 as the second choice and the winner’s share of $21,483 gives her career earnings of $102,288 from 4 wins in 12 starts.