FARMINGTON — Jockey Frank Reyes put on a riding clinic Tuesday afternoon in the $35,000 SunRay Park and Casino Handicap.
Outmaneuvering the heavily favored Dirt Monster and jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. going into the far turn, Reyes scored an upset in the one-mile affair with Silverhill. The race resulted in a one-two finish for trainer Justin Evans in one of the marquee races of the season.
The 3-year-old Silverhill led virtually gate to wire in the Handicap, running an opening half mile in 47.98 seconds while Dirt Monster, appearing always in hand, sat just a length off the early lead.
As the field approached the turn, Reyes asked Silverhill for a response, opening up a commanding three-length lead before Dirt Monster commenced his rally.
At the top of the lane, Reyes floated Dirt Monster to the outside a bit while maintaining his lead.
In the end, the gap was too much for Dirt Monster to overcome, and Silverhill — the second choice in the wagering at odds of 2.30-to-1 — posted a one-and-a-half-length victory in a final time of 1:37.46. Finishing second, Dirt Monster was more than 10 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
Silverhill, owned by Jackie and Sylvia Herron, earned his first career stakes win while scoring for the fourth time from 12 career starts. The win also completes a clean sweep of the meet for Silverhill, who won each of his three races over the course this season.
"He's always been a nice horse," Evans said of Silverhill after the race. "Last year as a 2-year-old he ran second in the Bashford Manor Stakes (at Churchill Downs). He's always been resilient and he has every right to be a really good horse."
The second place finish for Dirt Monster may have been foretold by Evans when he spoke of the horse's distance limitations.
Both distance limitations and the slow pace early on may have contributed to the runner-up performance of Dirt Monster, who is winless in three starts at one mile.
"I really thought at the top of the stretch that he (Dirt Monster) was going to get by," Evans said. "He was still trying to get Silverhill, but the horse is hot right now and that makes a difference over a track they seem to like."
Silverhill's win was worth $21,000 to the winning connections, and he has now posted earnings of more than $109,000. His winning backers cashed tickets worth $6.60 at the windows.
The 2015 SunRay Park and Casino racing season has only four days remaining, highlighted by next week's $75,000 San Juan County Commissioner's Handicap on Tuesday, the closing day of the season.
Friday's all-quarter horse program will be highlighted by a massive $2,773 carryover in the Super High Five Jackpot, which requires bettors to correctly pick the first five finishers in the day's ninth race on the card.
No one has correctly picked the first five finishers in Tuesday's nightcap, thus the wager carries over for a fourth straight day.
First post time on Friday is 3 p.m.
Steve Bortstein hosts "First Sports" and "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 AM and 93.9 FM and on iHeartRadio. He serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park & Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Follow him @fox1340am on Twitter.