Tracy Farmer's favored Sun King overcame his outside post in a 14-horse field to easily win the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) under Rafael Bejarano.
The Nick Zito-trained son of Charismatic picked up his third graded stakes victory of the year and moved well past the $1 million mark in career earnings. Sun King ran 15th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and fourth in the Preakness (gr. I) earlier this year.
Bejarano overcame the wide post to settle Sun King fourth between horses on the outside of longshot pacesetters United and Tani Maru. Sun King dispatched Tani Maru coming off the far turn and pulled away in the lane under pressure to win the 1 1/8-mile event by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:49 2/5 on a fast track.
"He really is a horse that responds to what you ask of him," Bejarano said. "I wanted a little more at the half, he gave it to me, and now I had the leaders in sight."
The late-running Southern Africa, ridden by Tyler Baze, nipped fellow closer Smokescreen and Mike Luzzi for second by a nose.
United set a quick early pace of :22 3/5 and :46 2/5 before giving way to Tani Maru, who led the field through six furlongs in 1:10 3/5.
Sun King's fifth victory in 12 career starts was worth $397,500 and pushed the dark bay colt's bankroll to $1,279,650. The 3-year-old was coming off a second place finish in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) Aug. 7 at Monmouth where he was beaten by Roman Ruler by 1 1/4 lengths.
Cambridge Farm and James Daniel Conway bred the winner, who was produced by the Clever Trick mare Clever But Costly, in Kentucky. Sun King was a $400,000 sale at Keeneland in January 2003.
The 7-5 choice paid $4.80, $3.40, and $3. Southern Africa returned $7.20 and $5.40 and rounded out a $48.80 exacta. Smokescreen's show was $7.
Sun King shared high weight of 122 pounds with several others and raced coupled with the Farmer-owned Indy Storm.
Network was a length behind in fourth, followed by West Virginia Derby (gr. III) winner Real Dandy, the 9-2 second choice. Then came Tani Maru, Quadrant, It's Time to Smile, Golden Rainbow, Anthony J., Indy Storm, United, Quiet Money, and Letterman's Humor.