07/17/2004 12:00AM

Arlington: Cryptograph wide winner

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Cryptograph drew a wide post and he had a wide trip - and he still won the $100,000 Round Table Stakes at Arlington Park. Which basically is what everybody expected.

Bet early and bet often, Cryptograph paid just $3.80 as the heavy favorite in a nine-horse field. He broke from the outside post, and showed just enough gate speed to get hung five or six paths wide around the first turn. But fast early fractions set the race up for Cryptograph, who worked hard to beat Fantasticat by one length. It was five lengths farther back to Chippewa Trail, who fell out of the gate and made a wide move on the far turn after racing in last.

Cryptograph, a Pin Oak Farm homebred trained by Donnie Von Hemel, was timed in 1:51.53 for 1 1/8 miles on a fast track.

Cryptograph now has won 5 of 9 starts, with this the best win of his career. In the spring, one start after running fourth to Smarty Jones in the Rebel Stakes, Cryptograph won the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge, which was rained off the grass to the dirt.

With Cryptograph wide on the first turn, jockey Don Pettinger took a hold and hoped for the best, and with Iosilver and Avid Skier blazing an opening half-mile in 46.36 seconds, things worked out. Chippewa Trail got involved on the far outside coming into the stretch, and Fantasticat made a race of it, rallying a path inside Cryptograph. But the best horse in the race bore down in the final furlong, gutting out a solid victory.