06/07/2002 11:00PM

Calder: Marquette back in big way

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MIAMI - Marquette, a Grade 2 winner earlier in his career, returned to his top form on Saturday when he rallied to a surprisingly easy 4 1/4-length victory in the $38,440 Kissin Kris Stakes at Calder.

Marquette won Saratoga's Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Handicap during the summer of 1999 and returned to finish second, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile the following spring. But after making just one more start in the Grade 1 Woodford Handicap on the undercard of the 2000 Kentucky Derby, Marquette went on the shelf for nearly two years before returning to action finishing fourth in the Jackie Wackie Handicap here on April 28.

Marquette had been on the shelf for nearly two years before returning to action and finishing fourth in the Jackie Wackie Handicap here on April 28.

Making his third start on the comeback trail in the Kissin Kris, Marquette rated off the early pace battle between even-money favorite Wertz and Tv Sports Director, overtook those rivals near the quarter pole and drew off to a long lead. Zloty rallied to finish second, three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Dillonmyboy, who was forced to take up sharply near the eighth pole.

Marquette paid $28.20. He covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.16 seconds over a firm turf course and was ridden to victory by Abad Cabassa Jr. for trainer Myra Mora.