05/07/2005 12:00AM

America Alive pops at $37.60 in Woodford

America Alive, under Robby Albarado, comes from far back to win the Woodford Reserve.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - On paper, the Grade 1 looked like an extremely well-matched race. And on the Churchill Downs turf course, that's exactly what it was.

Until the final furlong. That's where America Alive, a 17-1 shot ridden by Robby Albarado, blew past the field, almost making a farce of what had been a tightly contested race.

"He was way back, but that's him, that's his style," said Albarado. "He doesn't have any speed. You can't rush him or you compromise his finish, so I bided my time and he came home really fast."

America Alive, owned by the Mill House stable of former U.S. Treasury Secretary James Brady, won by 1 3/4 lengths over Meteor Storm, the 3-1 second choice in a field of 10 older turf horses. America Alive returned $37.60 to win after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.34 over a firm turf.

Quest Star finished third, another half-length back, followed by Sweet Return, G P Fleet, Mustanfar, Place Cowboy, Senor Swinger, Perfect Drift, and A to the Z.

Neil Howard trains America Alive, a 4-year-old homebred by American Chance.

"He's a very genuine horse," said Howard. "He's been an improving horse all along."

Quest Star, a 29-1 shot, held an open lead in the $470,400 Woodford before the field started closing in approaching the far turn. Midway through the far turn, America Alive was still last, but a torrid outside run carried the colt to his sixth victory from 14 lifetime starts, and his first in a graded race.

America Alive thrived at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans over the winter, racing four times and getting two wins, a third, and a fourth in that track's major races. His style had been characterized by the searing run he used to win the Woodford.

Meteor Storm, ridden by Corey Nakatani, also closed well but was no match for the winner. Perfect Drift, the 5-2 favorite, was never a serious factor.

The Woodford win was the second for Albarado, following his 1998 score on Joyeux Danseur.