01/27/2007 12:00AM

Bishop Court Hill ends battle early


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Officially, it took 69.20 seconds for Bishop Court Hill to win Saturday's $69,225 Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct. In reality, it took about four seconds to decide this six-furlong dash.

With Bishop Court Hill easily outbreaking Attila's Storm for the early lead, Bishop Court Hill opened up a huge early advantage and cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory under Jose Santos. Attila's Storm, under Chuck Lopez, chased all the way and finished second, three lengths ahead of Super Fuse. Pavo nosed out Wild Jam for fourth.

Bishop Court Hill became the fifth horse in 99 runnings to win the Paumonok in consecutive years. He joins a list that includes Red River (1907-08), Silver Fox (1926-27), Devil Diver (1944-45), and True and Blue (1990-91).

The victory was the ninth in 30 career starts for Bishop Court Hill, a 7-year-old gelded son of Holy Bull owned by Melnyk Racing Stables Inc. Seth Benzel saddled the winner for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is serving a suspension. Bishop Court Hill has now earned $623,825.

Breaking from post 4, Bishop Court Hill roared out of the gate and opened up a three-length lead after running the first quarter in 22.20 seconds. He covered a half-mile in 44.45 and ran six furlongs in 1:09.20. Last year, Bishop Court Hill won the Paumonok in 1:09.47. Despite being more accomplished than Attila's Storm, Bishop Court Hill ($7) was sent off the 5-2 second behind 3-5 favorite Attila's Storm.

"It was unbelievable how fast he broke out of the gate and after that it was all over," Santos said. "Around the turn he was running pretty fast fractions. He got a little bit late in the end; still running 1:09 for an old man is pretty good."

Attila's Storm was made the favorite based on solid efforts in Grade 1 stakes. However, he still has not won a race since the 2005 Fall Highweight Handicap.

"The dirt went out from behind him and he just spun his wheels out of there in that first jump," trainer Richard Schosberg said. "If you give that horse the first jump he's going to beat you."

These two are likely to meet again in the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Handicap here on March 10.