07/02/2006 11:00PM

Behaving Badly gets job done the hard way

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Adam Coglianese / NYRA
California-based Behaving Badly captures the Genuine Risk Handicap at 1-5 odds.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It was harder than it was supposed to be, but Behaving Badly made a triumphant homecoming in Monday's $155,700 at Belmont Park.

Finding herself off the pace despite modest early fractions, Behaving Badly outclassed her three rivals to post a half-length victory over Swap Fliparoo in the Grade 2 Genuine Risk. Stormy Kiss, who set the early pace, finished third, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Khalila.

It was the eighth victory from 11 starts for Behaving Badly, a 5-year-old daughter of Pioneering who was bred in New York but had never raced in this state. All seven of her previous wins had come in Southern California, where the tracks are firmer and kinder to speed.

On paper, Behaving Badly loomed the main speed of the Genuine Risk, but she found herself third, two lengths behind Stormy Kiss, who ran the opening quarter in 22.50 seconds while being pressed by Khalila.

Garrett Gomez was able to maneuver Behaving Badly off the rail and into the three path entering the far turn and she gradually hooked the leaders turning for home. Though Stormy Kiss ran stubbornly, Behaving Badly got past her at the eighth pole and was able to hold Swap Fliparoo at bay. Behaving Badly, trained by Bob Baffert, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.96 and returned $2.50 to win.

Gomez said Behaving Badly was standing awkwardly in the gate when the doors opened and that she "wasn't real happy'' when he asked her to get into the race.

"I said you know what, I'll let her regroup herself,'' Gomez said. "I've seen her track, so I moved her to the outside, gave her clear run; she's supposed to be much the best in here, let her prove it. Once we got into the turn she just slowly progressed and got a little stronger and a little stronger.''

Behaving Badly will likely return to Southern California and point for the Grade 3, $200,000 Rancho Bernardo on Aug. 18 at Del Mar, where she is 3 for 3.

* Miss Shop ($10.40) rallied five wide down the center of the Widener Turf Course under Richard Migliore to win the $67,700 Castle Royale Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over Somethinaboutbetty. Pure Incentive nosed out Crystal Current for third.