Sarah Nelson Dethrones Black Ruby at Pleasanton

The 4-year-old female Sarah Nelson won Sunday's Alameda County Fair Mule Championship at Pleasanton, Cal., dethroning the queen of the summer circuit Black Ruby, who was third.

Winning for the 11th time in 13 starts, Sarah Nelson has created a new wrinkle in the summer mule competition.

She lost to Black Ruby by a neck in their last encounter June 22 at 350 yards in Stockton, Cal.

But Black Ruby, ridden by Ryan Morris for the second time, was unable to duplicate that effort at 400 yards Sunday as the even-money favorite. Losing for only the ninth time in 62 recognized starts (she's actually won 70 times), the 11-year-old female ducked outward at the start from her outside post in the field of six and was never in position to win, drifting out while finishing two lengths behind the winner. She has now lost two of her last three decisions.

Sarah Nelson,with Victor Miranda riding for trainer Rhoda March at odds of 6-5, broke alertly from the inside post and maintained a half-length advantage to the wire over a game Smoking Joe, who was 13-1. Taz finished fourth, a half-length behind his nemesis Black Ruby. The final time was 23.369 seconds.

The Oregon bred earned $5,575 for owner Roger B. Downey, upping her career total to $39,996.

Sarah Nelson paid $4.40 and $3.60. Smoking Joe, who was ridden by Nick Sessions, returned $8.80. There was no show wagering. A $2 exacta paid $42.80.

(Chart, Equibase)