04/27/2013 7:26PM

Turf Paradise: Red Zeus delivers in Gene Fleming Breeders' Derby for Arizona-breds

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Red Zeus, ridden by Kelly Bridges, scores as the heavy favorite in the Gene Fleming Breeders' Derby for Arizona-bred 3-year-olds.

PHOENIX  – Red Zeus validated his heavy favorite status at Turf Paradise on Saturday, but it wasn’t easy. The 3-year-old Red Zeus captured the $56,129 Gene Fleming Breeders’ Derby, one of five stakes on Arizona-bred Day at the Phoenix track.

Owned by Dick and Peggy Hopwood and trained by Dan McFarlane, Red Zeus was made the 3-5 favorite on the strength of a 16-length win the Arizona Stallion Stakes on turf locally on April 6. Under Kelly Bridges, he sat second while Claypool ran off to a long lead in the 1 1/16-mile main track event, started to close in on that rival turning for home ,and kept on doggedly to wear down Claypool and edge past for the three-quarter-length win. Claypool finished another two lengths ahead of Lewiston in third in the field of sixth.

Red Zeus paid $3.40 as the heavy favorite and ran the distance in 1:42.65. The winner’s share of $29,819 gives him earnings of $95,791 from three wins in 13 starts.

In other stakes action:

Espresso Springs successfully defended his title in the $35,000 Sandra Hall Grand Canyon Handicap. Owned by Geri Gowdy and Rick Wise and trained by Wise, he broke poorly in the six-furlong event but had the speed to duel early with Artistic Venture, put that foe away, and kicked clear to win easily by 4 1/4 lengths under Scott Stevens. Frisky Ricky stalked and stayed on for second while Jamaican Memories, the 3-5 favorite, ran third in the field of seven. Espresso Springs paid $5 and ran the distance in a sizzling 1:07.82.

Tribal Gal invaded from California and had no problem capturing the $35,000 Joanne Dye Stakes for 3-year-old fillies as the overwhelming 1-5 favorite. Owned by John Pendergast and trained by Kory Owens, Tribal Gal bounced right out to a clear lead, set fast splits under Juan Rivera, and just kept extending her advantage to the line, eventually winning easily by 6 1/4 lengths. Unwritten Law chased the winner from the start and was a clear second with Tempe third in the field of six.

Tribal Gal paid $2.60 and ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in a strong 1:14.76.

F D Icy moved up in class after failing against claimers in his last three starts and responded by posting an impressive upset in the $35,000 Dwight D. Patterson Handicap. Owned by Roys Mansur and trained by Chad Story, the 5-year-old F D Icy ran second in the Grand Canyon Handicap on Arizona-bred Day last year. Under Mike Iammarino, he darted out to a long lead in the 1 1/16-mile turf event, opening up as much as a 10-length advantage after a half-mile. And really, at that point the race was over. The field got closer but never really enough to make him sweat as F D Icy eventually won by 5 1/4 lengths. Bullittone, the 8-5 favorite, ran second with defending champ Salado Tribe third in the field of eight.

F D Icy ran the distance in 1:43.05 and paid $19.80. Not only was it his first stakes win but it was his first win on turf in eight tries.

Hindu Kush ended the stakes activity with a huge upset as the 4-year-old filly won the $35,000 Ann Owens Distaff Handicap to the tune of $96.80.

Owned by Marvin Fleming and trained by Bill Brashears, she was coming off a victory on turf, though that came over $8,000 claimers. Hindu Kush handled the class hike with aplomb as under Dennis Collins she broke slowly from her rail draw in the six-furlong event, was able to establish herself in stalking position in fourth while saving ground, doggedly went after leader and favorite Page Springs in the lane, and got up to topple that rival by a head. Page Springs, the even-money favorite, bounced out to a clear lead while setting hot splits, battled gamely to the wire but just missed, finishing a neck in front of Luxuriance in third in the field of 10.

Hindu Kush ran the distance in 1:08.84.