07/28/2006 11:00PM

Bond Deal victorious in Luther Burbank

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Irish-bred Bond Deal ($3.20) sat off the pace before pulling away late as she captured the $50,900 Luther Burbank Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair on Saturday.

The 5-year-old mare, a stakes winner in Italy, won her first U.S. stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over second choice Bend, the only rival she led during the first half of the 1 1/16-mile turf race. The winning time was 1:42.53.

"(Jockey Catalino Martinez) did a nice job," winning owner David Mueller said. "We told him to sit behind the speed and make one late run."

Martinez was a comfortable fifth and dropped back to last while racing three wide on the turn when Bend began an early move to go after the leaders, Secret Corsage and Tight Circle. But Bond Deal quickly got into gear as the field turned for home, blowing past everyone.

Bond Deal, whose only other U.S. victory came at Golden Gate Fields, earned $27,650 for her sixth career victory in 25 starts to boost her earnings to $231,489.