06/07/2008 12:00AM

Benny the Bull gets up in time

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ELMONT, N.Y. - IEAH Stables and trainer Rick Dutrow, the connections of Big Brown, enjoyed an auspicious beginning to their stakes action Saturday at steamy Belmont Park when Benny the Bull got up in the final strides under Edgar Prado to win the $250,000 True North Handicap.

Benny the Bull, the top-ranked sprinter in the country and the 1-2 favorite off consecutive victories in the Grade 1 De Francis Dash, the Sunshine Millions Sprint, and the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, tracked along in fifth place early as Man of Danger carved out fractions of 22.06 seconds and 44.98.

In upper stretch, as Man of Danger was successfully turning back a bid from the comebacking Thor's Echo, Benny the Bull began to get on track out in the middle of the racing strip. But it wasn't until deep stretch that it looked like Benny the Bull might actually catch Man of Danger, which he did by a neck. Abraaj, a prominent factor from the outset, finished just a neck behind Man of Danger in third, with Thor's Echo a little more than a length farther back in fourth.

Benny the Bull, who paid $3, carried top weight of 123 pounds and covered the six furlongs of the Grade 2 True North over a very fast track in 1:09.06. His time was actually 0.26 of a second slower than what Desert Key required to win an entry-level allowance race in Saturday's opener.

Saint Daimon, who finished last in the True North, was treated for a reaction to the heat after being unsaddled following the race. After several minutes, Saint Daimon was able to walk off the track.