07/16/2005 11:00PM

Always First scores first stakes in Sunset


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Always First rallied along the rail to win Sunday's $163,500 Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park, scoring his first stakes win on the final day of the spring-summer meeting.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Always First ($11.60), who was last in the first quarter-mile, finished three-quarters of a length in front of Runaway Dancer and T.H. Approval, who finished in a dead-heat for second in the field of eight.

Runaway Dancer, the 2-1 favorite, was last for much of the race, and closed with a wide rally to just miss. T.H. Approval, the winner of the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in March, raced in midpack early.

Always First was imported from England last winter. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Always First, 4, was fourth and eighth in two group stakes in England last year. The Grade 2 Sunset was his stakes debut in the United States. Owned by Maktoum al Maktoum, Always First has won 3 of 10 starts and $189,417.

Always First may return in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 28.