11/29/2002 1:00AM

Atlantic Ocean takes to turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Atlantic Ocean, who was purchased for $1.9 million earlier this year but proved a disappointment in major stakes for 2-year-old fillies, rebounded with an upset victory in the $200,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Making her turf debut, Atlantic Ocean ($10.60) stalked pacesetter Heart ofa Champion to the final turn, and held off a late run from the Irish invader Tangle to win her first graded stakes.

Ridden by David Flores, Atlantic Ocean finished a mile on turf in 1:34.63 in the Grade 3 Miesque. Major Idea, who was coupled with Atlantic Ocean, finished third, followed by Ocean Drive, the 3-5 favorite, who was previously unbeaten in three starts. She was in stalking position to early stretch and had no visible excuse.

Atlantic Ocean was bought by The Thoroughbred Corporation at the Barretts 2-year-olds in training sale last March. The Miesque was her second stakes win. In September, she won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"I knew there was a reason I gave all that money for her," said winning trainer Bob Baffert. "She's been working like a champion and I said, 'Maybe she's a grass horse.' I had to try her because she was doing awesome."