08/10/2002 11:00PM

American Freedom takes Lincroft Handicap

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - American Freedom has alternated between dirt and turf, handling each with success, and on Sunday it was his grass form that secured his first stakes victory in the $50,000 Lincroft Handicap for statebreds and fourth consecutive win this meet.

American Freedom, with Jose Velez Jr. aboard, saved ground along the rail in sixth through the backstretch, sitting about seven lengths off the blistering pace of 22.61 and 45.54 set by Spectacular Slew. American Freedom eased out for the drive turning for home, and took the lead at the sixteenth pole before resisting a moderate late challenge from the late-running Catechol. Red Weasel was third.

American Freedom ($6), a 4-year-old trained by Jamie Woodington, was one-half length in front at the wire and covered the mile distance over firm turf in 1:36.10 before a crowd of 12,067. With the win, he became the leading horse at the meet in terms of wins. After starting the meet with a third-place finish on the turf, he alternated between dirt and turf in three starts, all versus open company, leading into the Lincroft.

Woodington said a start in the Bob Harding Stakes Aug. 31 on the turf is a possible next start for American Freedom.