08/02/2003 12:00AM

Cappuchino captures Grace Handicap


SANTA ROSA, Calif. ? Cappuchino ($9), who had been sprinting against better, scored a wire-to-wire victory in the $101,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair on Saturday.

"That's the way he wants to run," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's assistant Joe Jacot said. "If they weren't quarter horsing out of there, we wanted to be on the lead."

Cappuchino, who chased Aldebaran in Kentucky and Joey Franco in Southern California in his past three starts, made the lead over Hoovergetthekeys and set a comfortable pace in the 1 1/16-mile race.

When World Light loomed up on the second turn before having to be pulled up in the stretch, Cappuchino responded and opened a wide margin, eventually winning by five over Surprise Halo in 1:42.01.

"They told me they preferred to see the horse on the lead and relaxing," winning jockey Roberto Gonzalez said. "He never pulled me. He sat the way they wanted him to be.

"When that horse moved up on the turn, I just had him wait, and when I asked him to switch leads, he re-broke. He was running nice and never tried to stop at all."

Cappuchino earned $55,100 for owners Hollendorfer, Howard Litt and George Todaro to increase his career earnings to $316,081 with six victories in 20 starts.