10/27/2013 8:12AM

Turf Paradise: Red Zeus, Rock Hard Bunny win turf stakes

Coady Photography
Rock Hard Bunny and jockey Daniel Vergara win the Queen of the Green Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday.

Red Zeus struck a blow for the local contingent at Turf Paradise on Saturday as the 3-year-old posted a 16-1 upset while toppling a couple of well-regarded Southern California invaders in capturing the $35,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial Stakes.

Owned by Peggy Hopwood and trained by Dan McFarlane, Red Zeus stalked the pace under Kelly Bridges from his disadvantageous, far-outside No. 8 post in the one-mile grass race, moved closer into the lane, and gamely beat fellow longshot Back Alley Rally by a neck.

Back Alley Rally, at 24-1, stayed on well for second, ahead of Southern California raiders Leaving New York and 6-5 favorite Camp Victory in the field of eight.

Red Zeus ran the distance in 1:35.42 and paid $35.60. The winner’s share of $21,049 gives him earnings of $143,475 from five wins in 17 starts.

Earlier on the card Rock Hard Bunny returned from New Mexico and returned to turf, and that was the winning remedy, as the 4-year-old filly posted a 22-1 upset in the $35,000 Queen of the Green, the sister stakes to the Cluer.

Owned by Donald Nickou and trained by Juan Gutierrez, Rock Hard Bunny sat last early in the field of six distaffers going a mile. Under Daniel Vergara, she bided her time at the back of the pack, remained there turning for home, and still was last with a furlong to go before surging past her rivals to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Kind of Naughty dueled early and held second, with Cell Line Forever running on for third. Ms Pianist, the 8-5 favorite, was no factor, finishing last.

Rock Hard Bunny ran the distance in 1:35.96 and paid $46.60. The winner’s share of $21,483 gives her a bankroll of $55,952 from four wins in 19 starts.