Sun sets on Ryehill's dream comeback

Ryehill Dreamer, who had been sidelined by injury since capturing the Grade 2 American Handicap in May 2011, tracked Red Sun through fractions of :23 4/5 and :47 1/5 on the firm turf

Harris Farms' homebred Red Sun was all heart on the front end in Sunday's $80,760 Lure Stakes at Santa Anita, determinedly repelling even-money favorite Ryehill Dreamer and denying him in his comeback.

Ryehill Dreamer, who had been sidelined by injury since capturing the Grade 2 American Handicap in May 2011, tracked Red Sun through fractions of :23 4/5 and :47 1/5 on the firm turf. Rounding the far turn, Ryehill Dreamer went after the pacesetter in earnest. He drew alongside through six furlongs in 1:10 3/5, and appeared ready to go by at the top of the stretch, but Red Sun refused to yield.

After a protracted duel, Red Sun inched away to prevail by a neck, earning his first career stakes victory. The 9-5 second choice negotiated the firm-turf mile in 1:34 under Rafael Bejarano and returned $5.80, $2.80 and $2.20.

"He was so game through the lane," winning trainer Carla Gaines said. "I'm so impressed. I was screaming my guts out.

"I expected him to be in front. I was worried for the last quarter of a mile, but he's always tenacious on the lead, though. Julio's horse (Ryehill Dreamer, trained by Julio Canani) and my horse ran a great race to the bitter end."

"I had to be on the lead with my horse," Bejarano recapped. "I knew there was going to be a little speed on the outside, so I had to use a little bit of my horse in the beginning, but after that I was able to relax. When I saw the favorite (Ryehill Dreamer) was coming next to me, I tried to save as much ground as I could and let my horse go with him. This horse always runs well with me."

Ryehill Dreamer's rider, Joe Talamo, praised his effort in defeat.

"That's about as good as he could have run," Talamo said. "We had a perfect trip, laid right off the winner, but just got outrun. When my horse switched leads down the lane, I really thought I had a chance to catch the leader, but I just think he got outrun. I think he really needed the race today because he hasn't run in so long. It was a really great effort considering the layoff."

The two market leaders engaged in a virtual match race, for no one else threatened. Another 2 1/2 lengths astern came Temple's Door in third, followed by Bud I Crushed It and Brushburn. Polytechnicien was scratched.

Red Sun has spent a fair amount of time on the shelf as well. Third in the Grade 2 San Francisco Mile in April 2010, the son of Redattore was not seen again for a year. The California-bred made only two starts in 2011 and had another year-long layoff following his third in the Harry F. Brubaker at Del Mar. The six-year-old gelding reappeared at the same venue in an August 30 optional claimer, finishing second, and was subsequently ninth in the Grade 3 Eddie D. (formerly the Morvich) on Santa Anita's downhill turf on September 28. The Lure was his third start back, advancing his scorecard to 11-6-2-2, $280,188.

"He's been close in other stakes races, but this time we got it," Gaines said. "He ran an off race down the hill last time, and we really don't have a reason for that. His last race was not typically him. He came back with a good performance.

"One mile suits him better, and we had a little conditioning edge on the favorite (Ryehill Dreamer). You take what you can get, right? He's always been a very, very nice horse. He just had his problems along the way, so it is very rewarding that he gets it done today."

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