09/03/2005 12:00AM

Ay Caramba adds Caesar Rodney to his legacy


Ay Caramba's only claim to fame could have been as the answer to this racing trivia question: Who was the last winner ridden by Pat Day?

Instead, the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred Ay Caramba is making a name for himself among older turf horses.

Something of a disappointment after losing seven of his first eight starts in the United States, Ay Caramba has now put together a four-race winning streak. His latest triumph came Saturday when he flew past Mr O'Brien in deep stretch to capture the $194,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at Delaware Park.

Ridden by Robby Albarado for trainer Bobby Frankel, Ay Caramba ($4.40) rallied past 7-5 second choice Mr O'Brien with a furlong remaining and was ridden out to the wire while prevailing by 2 1/2 lengths. The winning time for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf was 1:48.05.

Mr O'Brien, making only his second start since last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Cottage. Keep Cool, the early pacesetter, finished fourth and last in a field drastically reduced by seven scratches, plus two main-track-only entrants.

Albarado, riding Ay Caramba for the first time, was impressed by his mount's closing kick in the last quarter-mile of the race.

"I thought Mr O'Brien was the horse to beat, so we followed him," Albarado said. "When he kicked on, we kicked on with him. I was right behind him and we did not try to make the lead too early. I'll tell you what, my horse was freakish from the quarter-pole home."

In his previous two starts, Ay Caramba won the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park and gave Day with the final victory of his Hall-of-Fame career in an optional claiming race at Churchill Downs on July 10.

Overall, Ay Caramba has won 9 of 18 lifetime starts, including two stakes in Brazil.