06/07/2002 11:00PM

Beat Hollow stakes his spot at top


ELMONT, N.Y. - Beat Hollow stamped himself as the country's top grass male with an authoritative two-length win in Saturday's $400,000 on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Forbidden Apple, who won the Manhattan last year, finished second in his first start since December. It was a half-length back to Strut the Stage, the Grade 2 Dixie winner, in third.

The Manhattan was Beat Hollow's second consecutive win in a Grade 1 race after capturing the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

Earlier in the week, Beat Hollow's Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, said he thought the 5-year-old was the likely pacesetter in the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan. Frankel read the race right as Beat Hollow, the 8-5 favorite with Alex Solis in the saddle, controlled the pace through comfortable fractions of 24.77 seconds, 49.57, 1:13.56, and 1:37.17 over a course labeled good.

The final time was 2:01.29.

"I told him to put him on the lead," Frankel said. "There wasn't that much speed in the race."

Solis said he rode Beat Hollow as if he were on the best horse.

"I rode him with a lot of confidence," Solis said. "We just galloped until the eighth pole and then I knuckled down on him."

With Anticipation, the second choice, finished fourth, beaten three lengths by Beat Hollow. Pat Day, With Anticipation's rider, lost his whip early in the stretch. Completing the order of finish were Blazing Fury, Hap, Slew the Red, and Krombacher.

Beat Hollow ($5.20) is owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms.

Beat Hollow, who did not race as a 4-year-old, had already distinguished himself as a top-class horse in Europe for trainer Henry Cecil before coming to America several months ago. In 2000, he won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp and also finished third as the favorite in the Group 1 Epsom Derby behind European standouts Sinndar and Sakhee.

Since coming to Frankel's barn, Beat Hollow, a son of Sadler's Wells, has won three of four starts.

Frankel's main goal for Beat Hollow this summer is the Arlington Million at Arlington Park on Aug. 17.