Longshot Sailors Sunset left four rivals in the dark as he sped to a front-running victory over crack sprinter Siren Lure and 2004 juvenile champion Declan's Moon in a stakes record time of 1:07.79 for six furlongs in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) on Cushion track at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Sailors Sunset, the highest-priced horse in the race at odds of 13-1, broke on top and was never headed while posting a major upset, officially eliminating all Pick Six players on Saturday's program. There is a carryover of $169,348 Sunday at Hollywood Park. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
Declan's Moon, running for the third time this year, stalked Sailors Sunset down the backstretch and made a run at the leader rounding the far turn, but could not match strides with him. Siren Lure, a winner of five races in 2006, made his bid in the stretch, but never seriously threatened, finishing 1 ¾ lengths back.
"I was just hoping that I could be close to the lead," Court said. "I knew he was very capable of inheriting the lead, then I could just dictate the pace in my favor. He took to that track today like he owned it. He found another gear around the sixteenth pole. He always runs hard and gives it his best effort."
Sailors Sunset, the first graded stakes winner at Hollywood Park for trainer Marcelo Polanco, paid $28.80, $6.40, and $2.40 while winning for the fifth time in 13 starts. Favorite Siren Lure, ridden by Alex Solis, paid $2.80 and $2.10. Declan's Moon, another three lengths back in third place under Victor Espinoza, returned $2.20.
While Sailors Sunset was stepping up in class, he had been very sharp of late, winning three of his four previous starts. An 11 ¼-length winner in the Foothill at Fairplex Park in September, he won a minor stakes race at Turf Paradise in his last start. In between, he finished sixth in the Grade III Perryville at Keeneland.
"I was really high on him because, when he ran at Turf Paradise, he ran in 1:07 and change, and the horse, after the race, he looked like he didn't do anything," Polanco said. "I told the owner that this race might come up light. We decided if we like it we'll go, if we don't, we won't go. I liked everything, I liked the distance, and the horse did the rest."
Sailors Sunset, who broke his maiden for a claiming price of $62,500 in his second career start, earned $60,000 to boost his earnings to $200,610 for Everest Stables, nom de course for Jeff Nielsen of Stillwater, Minn.
The winner surprised Solis."I thought they were going to come back when they ran that fast," he said. "I was smiling back there, but not down the stretch. He ran a great race - they ran 1:07 and change. That's really running." (Chart, Equibase)