Updated on 02/17/2013 1:49PM

Turf Paradise: Phoenix Gold Cup bittersweet for stable as L.A. Weekend wins but Derive breaks down

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L.A. Woman, ridden by Geovanni Franco, scores at 9-2 odds in the Phoenix Gold Cup.

PHOENIX  – It was no surprise to see owner Rick Wiest and trainer Robertino Diodoro in the winner’s circle at Turf Paradise after Saturday’s $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup. After all, they won it last year with Derive and had that big horse back for a title defense.

But it was a surprise that their “other” horse, the very sharp L. A. Weekend, posted a mild upset in the six-furlong  marquee event for the Turf Paradise meet.

Ridden by Geovanni Franco, the 5-year-old L.A. Weekend, who was coming off a romping 5 3/4-length win at Sunland Park last month, went right out to set the pace, dueling with Streakin’ Mohican through hot splits of 21.38 and 43.86 seconds. He dispatched Streakin’ Mohican and Safe Trip turning for home, opened up, and had enough of a buffer to keep Absolutely Cool safe to win by a length.

Absolutely Cool had to settle for second in the Gold Cup for the second year in a row, with 41-1 longshot Memo to Mya rallying for third. Derive broke down at the top of the stretch and was euthanized. Safe Trip, the even-money favorite off three straight wins in New Mexico, stalked the pace but weakened a bit to finish fourth in the field of eight.

L. A. Weekend ran the distance in 1:08.35 and paid $11.60. The winner’s share of $45,105 gives him earnings of $227,949 from 6 wins in 14 starts.

Why Not Perfect much the best

Why Not Be Perfect rattled off two big wins in the fall before tossing in a dud when sixth in the Cotton Fitzsimmons here Jan. 12. He pretty much showed that to be an aberration as he dominated the $35,000 Turf Paradise Handicap.

 Owned by JC Racing Stable and trained by Jeff Metz, the 6-year-old Why Not Be Perfect, under Anne Sanguinetti, stalked dueling pacesetters The Gov and 4-5 favorite Green Secret in the 1 1/16-mile grass race, went past those tiring rivals into the lane and powered home to win by 5 1/4 lengths. Major Magic, who was alongside the winner much of the way, moved with that rival, grabbed a brief lead into the lane but was no match for that foe while finishing a clear second. Goldfire was last early and plugged along for third. Green Secret paid the price for the duel, facing to fourth in a field reduced to five after the scratch of Touch the Sun.

Why Not Be Perfect ran the distance in 1:42.29 and paid $5.80 as the second choice. The winner’s share of $21,700 gives him earnings of $231,473 from 7 wins in 42 starts.

E Z Kitty handles turf

E Z Kitty is the top female runner on dirt here. She made a pitch to include turf in that comment as the daughter of He’s Tops proved a game winner in the $35,000 Sun City Handicap. Owned by Mike Chambers, John Xitco, and Dan Agnew, and trained by Chambers, the 5-year-old E Z Kitty was sent off the 4-5 favorite in the mile grass stakes for fillies and mares. Under Gallyn Mitchell, she bounced right out to the lead while under pressure from Mundy, lost the lead to that rival on the far turn but surged back ahead and got to the line just a nose before the hard-charging Smarty. Smarty, who won the Feb. 2 Glendale Handicap where E Z Kitty was third, did everything right, stalking the pace and finishing strongly but just came up a lip shy in the photo while well clear of the rest. Street Savy ran third in the field of seven.

E Z Kitty ran the mile in 1:37.73 and paid $3.80. The winner’s share of $21,266 gives her a bankroll of $144,313 from 9 wins in 15 starts.