ODDS-ON CHOICE MR GRUFF EASY WINNER OF MIDNIGHT MOONLIGHT

ODDS-ON CHOICE MR GRUFF EASY WINNER OF MIDNIGHT MOONLIGHT

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 11, 2009) – Lightly-raced 5-year-old gelding Mr Gruff, who broke his maiden on Jan. 3 of this year, served notice of being a late-bloomer on Wednesday and sent his rivals howling while easily winning the $52,480 Midnight Moonlight Purse at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

Sent off at odds of 2-5 with Joel Rosario in the saddle, Mr Gruff gained a short early lead, controlled a soft early pace and drew off impressively under a hand ride to defeat Suit Yourself by 2 ¼ lengths while timed in 1:12.11. The latter nodded Stand Tall by a head for the place.

A son of Mr. Greeley out of Ruff, Mr Gruff did not begin his career until last year when he raced only twice without winning for owner Gary Broad and trainer Ron Ellis. He returned in the Jan. 3 race to break his maiden by 4 ¼ lengths while sprinting over Santa Anita’s downhill course. He missed by a nose in his subsequent start down the hill on Jan. 31.

The well-fancied runner paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 for his victory in the Midnight Moonlight. Suit Yourself, ridden by Alex Solis, paid $10.80 and 8.20 while Stand Tall, with Clinton Potts aboard, paid $10.80 to show.

The winning purse of $28,800 increased Mr Gruff’s earnings to $77,800 from a career record of 2-2-0 in five races.

Santa Anita will present an eight-race card on Thursday with first post at 1 p.m.

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