05/11/2002 11:00PM

Bay Meadows: Van Rouge romps in Ascot

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Van Rouge ($6.80), who had just broken his maiden, went wire-to-wire to win the $100,000 Ascot Handicap (G3) at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

The Mr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Moss homebred was never challenged in the 1 1/16-mile turf race that was shown nationally on ESPN2. He defeated Doc Holiday by 4.5 lengths in 1:41.78.

"We were going a good tack on the front end, but I had a ton of horse," winning rider Jason Lumpkins said. "We hit the quarter pole, and I felt good because they'd been running to him all the way."

"We hoped he'd relax, and he really did," winning trainer John Shirreffs said. "The horse has speed, but we didn't know where he'd be placed. I was happy with his position on the lead when I saw him relaxed and on a long rein."

Van Rouge was a head in front of Doc Holiday after a 23.28 opening quarter. He picked up the pace in the second quarter and opened a daylight lead he maintained the rest of the way.

Moss said he expected Van Rouge to be a good turf horse with sire Red Ransom and dam Tarte Aux Pommes (Fr), a stakes winner on the turf in Italy.

"We looked at an allowance race at Hollywood Park but didn't think it would fill," he said. "John said we should take a shot (in the stakes) because he was going so well."

Van Rouge earned $55,000, more than doubling his lifetime earnings to $105,160 with two wins in seven starts.