Ashleyluvssugar comes out on top in the San Luis Rey.
Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing’s Ashelyluvssugar was just able to hold off the late closers in Sunday’s Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship, maintaining a winning margin of a half-length on the wire. The 5-year-old gelded son of Game Plan, ridden by Gary Stevens, covered 10 furlongs over Santa Anita’s firm turf in 1:58.35 for trainer Peter Eurton.
El Huerfano sped out of the starting gates set a short way up the hill on the turf course, and struggled with the turn to join up with the main track, carrying Ashleyluvssugar nearly three paths wider than both had started. Once El Huerfano straightened out, he streaked out to a three-length lead through quick early fractions of :23.55 and :46.93. Ashleyluvssugar was traveling comfortably in second behind him, another 3 1/2 lengths in front of A Red Tie Day and Twentytwentyvision. Late closers Texas Ryano and Metaboss trailed the field down the backstretch.
Rounding the turn for home, El Huerfano was swallowed up by the field, granting Ashleyluvssugar the lead at the head of the lane. The gelding held a 1 1/2-length advantage but appeared to be laboring a bit under Stevens. Twentytwentyvision kept on from fourth, and the late runners were rallying down the center of the racecourse. With a sixteenth of a mile to run, Twentytwentyvision caught up with Ashleyluvssugar, but Stevens convinced his gelding to drop his head and keep trying. Both Metaboss and Texas Ryano were flying late, but would run out of racetrack before the wire. Ashleyluvssugar held on by a half-length over Texas Ryano, with both Twentytwentyvision (third) and Metaboss (fourth) nearly right alongside the runner-up.
Bred in California by his owners, Ashleyluvssugar has been on a roll in 2016, racing three times and never finishing off the board. Last out he captured the Del Mar Handicap, so the John Henry makes it two in a row for the late-blooming gelding. Overall, Ashleyluvssugar boasts a record of eight wins from 17 career starts, with earnings of over $ 840,000.
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