08/03/2002 12:00AM

Boots On Sunday hangs on in Straus


Boots On Sunday dug down deep and held off Ski Bum by a neck to win his second straight $30,000 J.R. Straus Memorial on Friday at Retama Park before an opening night crowd of 4,569.

It was another length back in third to Two Punch Sonny.

Boots On Sunday broke well as the 3-5 favorite, and dueled with Wild Axe through an opening quarter in 22.24 seconds. He took command of the race soon afterward, and was game in deep stretch when challenged first by Two Punch Sonny on his outside, then by Ski Bum to his inside.

"He has a heart of gold," said Danny Pish, who trains Boots On Sunday for owner-breeder Wilton Scott.

Boots On Sunday covered six furlongs in 1:10.26 under regular rider Roman Chapa, and returned $3.40. He improved his record to 14 wins from 34 starts with the victory, and the first-place check of $18,000 increased his career earnings to $415,965.

Retama handled $1,347,922 on its 10-race card, an increase of about $100,000 over opening night in 2001.