El Paso, TX — The well decorated stakes winner African Rose produced a vintage run to win the $50,000 El Diario Handicap at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino on Saturday.
The 2013 Harry Henson Handicap heroine was at the top of her game for training juggernaut Justin Evans, and the mare propelled to a convincing 2-length win at a surprising 9-2 odds. Under jockey Alfredo Juarez, jr., African Rose handed Cottagecupcake the first defeat in her young career. Last year’s leading older Thoroughbred mare simply had too much experience and firepower for her rivals going six and one-half furlongs. The high powered sprinting mare forced the issue throughout and was timed in 1:16.05. The 10-time winner paid $11.20 to win.
African Rose picked up $30,000 for Judge Lanier Racing of Taiban, New Mexico. The five-year-old Bwana Charlie mare has earned over $240,000 in her brilliant career.
Justin Evans, the runaway leader in the trainer standings, continued his meteoric season with his sixth stakes win of the meet. He has also led the nation’s trainers in wins this year.
Cottagecupcake ran a splendid race under jockey Carlos Madeira. The Dallas Barton trainee was seeking her fourth straight win in as many starts. She was locked in battle with the winner for much of the El Diario but could not find enough in deep stretch. The four-year-old daughter of Stormello wound up in second place, a half-length in front of favored Wine Thief.
Live racing resumes on Sunday at 12:15 p.m. The $50,000 Curribot Handicap starring Winsham Lad Handicap winner Smack Ridge and 2013 Mine That Bird Derby winner Dry Summer is the featured 10th race at one and one-sixteenth miles.