04/28/2006 11:00PM

Bernardini in right spot after all


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After dealing with a cough and a bruised foot following Bernardini's maiden victory at Gulfstream Park on March 4, trainer Tom Albertrani was looking forward to running the A.P. Indy colt in an allowance race on Friday, but he opted to run him in Saturday's 127th running of the $150,000 when the field came up with only four horses.

The more aggressive move turned out to be the right one after Bernardini tracked odds-on Luxembourg to the top of the stretch and drew off to win the Grade 3, one-mile stakes for 3-year-olds by 3 3/4 lengths.

Doc Cheney rallied to overtake a weakened Luxembourg for second, and Rob'em Blind trailed throughout.

Luxembourg was off slowest from the inside post, but assumed the lead through fractions of 23.13 and 46.24 seconds while well out in the track down the backstretch, as Bernardini stalked from outside. Bernardini moved to challenge approaching the stretch after six furlongs in 1:10.61, and pulled clear despite his jockey, Javier Castellano, losing the whip. He finished in 1:35.07 on a fast track, the fastest mile run on Aqueduct's main track this spring.

"We finished up well, and it looked like he had something left at the end," said Albertrani. "His foot bruise was really a minor deal. We backed off him for a couple of days and then it was right back to his usual routine. We'll consider the Preakness. We'll talk it over with John Ferguson and Sheikh Mohammed."

Bernardini, bred and owned by Darley Stable, won for the second time in three career starts and paid $5.70 as the second choice.

"When I pushed the button he took off," said Castellano. "He switched leads perfect, and he's got a lot of class."

Beaugay: Can't catch Pommes Frites

In the 29th running of the Grade 3, $112,300 Beaugay Handicap on the turf, the first four positions went to fillies and mares who had last raced at Gulfstream Park.

Pommes Frites, a wire-to-wire winner of two allowance races at Gulfstream, was able to get the lead through leisurely fractions of 24.90, 49.93, and 1:13.84, and had enough left in the stretch to hang on beneath Cornelio Velasquez for her first stakes victory.

The Bill Mott-trained Pommes Frites remained perfect from three starts at age 4, staving off last year's Lake Placid winner, Naissance Royale, by a head. Brunilda and Omeya, also up from Florida, finished third and fourth, and were followed under the line by Asti, Angara, Little Buttercup, and Laurafina.

Pommes Frites ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.15 on firm turf, and paid $7.20 as the slight favorite over Brunilda. She earned $67,380 for her sixth win in 12 lifetime starts.

"She could always run, it has just taken a little maturity and seasoning to get her to this level," said Mott. "The pace scenario worked out very well for us today, and she was very game in the stretch."