05/30/2005 12:00AM

Castledale justifies owners' gamble

Castledale (left), who was nearly scratched, holds off King of Happiness to win the Shoemaker BC Mile by a half-length on Monday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Jeff Mullins and owners Frank Lyons and Greg Knee took a calculated risk on Monday at Hollywood Park, and came away with another Grade 1 victory for Castledale, this time on turf in the $369,000 .

Mullins said he was leery of running on the turf after one of his horses, All the Boys, suffered a fatal injury on the grass on Sunday. After walking the turf course Monday morning, Mullins left the call to the owners, who had put up a $7,000 supplemental fee five days earlier to make Castledale eligible for the race.

"I left it up to them," Mullins said. "I almost scratched."

Castledale stayed in, then headed to the winner's circle after outdueling King of Happiness in the final furlong to win the one-mile grass race by a half-length. Fast and Furious, who trailed early in the seven-horse field, was another three lengths back in third. Singletary, the 9-5 favorite and the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, was fourth.

Castledale ($11.20), ridden by Rene Douglas, covered one mile on firm turf in 1:33.17. Last year, Castledale scored a 30-1 upset in the Santa Anita Derby, his first Grade 1 victory. He has won four races in this country since being imported from Ireland, all by no more than a half-length.

"He's such a character," said Lyons, a former trainer who now works as an analyst for TVG. "He likes to win by a neck, do just enough to beat you."

King of Happiness got off to a rough start, but got a dream run inside on the final turn under Corey Nakatani.

"He got sandwiched coming out of the gate, and they ran a mile 1:33 and one," Nakatani said. "That's running."