Tracy Farmer's Sun King, fitted with blinkers by trainer Nick Zito, went gate to wire to win the $300,000 Leonard Richards (gr. III) for 3-year-olds by 5 3/4 lengths Sunday at Delaware Park.
The Charismatic colt completed the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:43 1/5 on fast track. Golden Man finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of the 7-10 favorite High Limit, who began his career with great success at Delaware Park.
Zito decided on the equipment change after Sun King turned in disappointing efforts in the Bluegrass (gr. I), Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and Preakness (gr. I) during the spring.
Sun King broke sharply Sunday, setting the pace while saving ground with fractions of :24, :47 3/5 and 1:11 2/5. Challenged on the turn by High Limit, jockey Rafael Bejarano let Sun King out a notch and the colt shook loose at the top of the stretch. Sun King edged away under a steady drive.
Golden Man pressed the pace in third and rallied in the stretch to get the place spot for jockey John Velazquez. High Limit, Edgar Prado aboard, broke a bit slowly but recovered to move into contention before fading in the stretch.
Letterman's Humor and Sort It Out trailed.
Sun King won for the first time since taking the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) impressively in March, which stamped the Kentucky-bred as one of the horses to watch on the Kentucky Derby trail. After running 15th in the Derby, he was fourth, beaten by 10 3/4 lengths by Afleet Alex in the Preakness, his most recent start. Zito gave Sun King nearly two months off to prepare for the Richards.
A $400,000 Keeneland January Sale buy in 2003, Sun King was third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). His fourth win in 10 lifetime starts was worth $180,000 and increased his earnings to $682,150.
The second choice, Sun King paid $7, $4 and $2.10. Golden Man returned $6.20 and $2.10. High Limit's show was $2.10.
Scrappy T and Papi Chullo scratched.