08/18/2002 11:00PM

Beat Hollow runs like a million

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The big horse isn't just gifted, he's brave. Beat Hollow dug down deep and won a thrilling Arlington Million, passing Forbidden Apple in the final yards while holding off a desperate rally from his arch rival, Sarafan.

Beat Hollow's winning margin was a head in the most competitive Arlington Million ever. Sarafan was second by a nose over Forbidden Apple, with only little more than a length separating the first six finishers in the race.

"Thank God I won," said Bobby Frankel, who trains Beat Hollow for Juddmonte Farms. "I've lost a few like this."

Jockey Jerry Bailey timed his move perfectly aboard Beat Hollow, waiting until the last possible moment to ask for his mounts's best run.

Bailey thought Beat Hollow was down to the last of his reserves at the wire. "Yeah, he was," Bailey said. "A mile and a quarter is about his limit. The farther he goes, the less his kick is."

Many, including Frankel, thought Beat Hollow would be on the lead. But Christophe Clement, Forbidden Apple's trainer, vowed Beat Hollow wouldn't steal the Million like he had the Manhattan two starts earlier.

So jockey Jose Santos sent Forbidden Apple straight to the front, and nobody went with him. From the start, the pace clearly was slow.

Beat Hollow looked as if could have gone up to the lead at any point, but Bailey kept him outside and in the clear in third, biding his time. "I was waiting as long as I could to pull the trigger," Bailey said. "I was worried about Forbidden Apple, but I knew I had to have something left for Sarafan."

Sarafan was guided to the outside and found his best stride as he turned for home. Beat Hollow wore down Forbidden Apple in the final furlong, but Sarafan was gaining steadily. Falcon Flight flashed in between horses, but was shut off in deep stretch, and there was the wire, with Beat Hollow just hanging on.

Beat Hollow paid the shortest price in Million history, $3.40.

Beat Hollow was timed in 2:02.94, with a final furlong in just more than 24 seconds. But that's a furlong he won't have to deal with the next time he races at Arlington, because Frankel said Beat Hollow will turn back in distance and point for the Breeders' Cup Mile.