02/04/2010 12:00AM

Bubbler manages to withstand Never Retreat's rally

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NEW ORLEANS - Bubbler fought back in a prolonged stretch duel to beat odds-on favorite Never Retreat by a nose in Saturday's $60,000 at Fair Grounds.

The race, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf, was reduced to five starters when it was moved to the main track. Bubbler, the second choice at 8-5, was entered for the main track only.

After sitting just off the pace, jockey Eddie Martin Jr. guided Bubbler ($5.20) past pacesetter More of the Best at the three-quarter pole, taking a length lead. Never Retreat, guided by James Graham, loomed up on the outside and collared Bubbler, getting even, but never getting past, as Bubbler barely hung on. It was 15 3/4 lengths back to No Use Denying in third.

The race was vindication for Bubbler, who lost badly as she became unwound a month ago in the Furl Sail Handicap, losing by 13 lengths.

"Mentally she had it all together today," said Martin. "Last time she went a little nutty."

Bubbler went 1 1/16 miles over a fast main track in 1:45.06. She has now won 4 of 5 starts for trainer Bret Calhoun and Du-Zee Stables.

It was the second consecutive hard-luck defeat for Never Retreat, who was disqualified from first to second in her last race, the Furl Sail Handicap.

"She just isn't lucky now, is she?" said Never Retreat's trainer, Richie Scherer.