05/09/2003 11:00PM

Arlington: Douglas, as usual


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Rene Douglas rode the winner in 11 stakes races here last year, tying an Arlington record, and that familiar face popped into Arlington winner's circle again after the $100,000 Black Tie Affair Handicap.

But not without a struggle.

Riding hard from the half-mile to the finish, Douglas urged Full Mandate to a neck victory over Bonus Pack in Arlington's first stakes race this season. Full Mandate rallied into contention around the far turn and outlasted Bonus Pack for the first stakes win of his career.

A $3.2 million yearling owned by Padua Stable and Fog City Stable, the 4-year-old Full Mandate looked like a bust early in his career. Trainer Steve Asmussen took over his training last summer, and gradually Full Mandate has come around. He won a first-level allowance race last fall and consecutive allowance races coming into the Black Tie Affair before putting together a career-best effort Saturday.

There was little true pace in the nine-furlong Black Tie Affair, and Deferred Comp and Fight for Ally alternated on the lead through a quarter-mile in 24.03 seconds and a half in 47.83. Bonus Pack and Full Mandate raced near the back of a tight pack, and while the favored Bonus Pack got first run, he couldn't withstand Full Mandate's sustained stretch push.

Full Mandate took a surprising amount of betting action and paid $8.60 to win. He was timed in 1:50.24 over a fast track. Woodmoon was third, followed by Baker Road, Deferred Comp, Fight for Ally, and Saquache.