11/29/2003 12:00AM

Castledale looks right at home

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Frank Lyons, the trainer turned broadcaster, has a breezy personality that makes it seem like he's on vacation when he's at work for TVG, so it only figures that he worked on his vacation.

While in his native Ireland in September, Lyons saw a 2-year-old colt he thought would be suitable for American racing. Lyons teamed up with owner Greg Knee to purchase Castledale, and on Saturday at Hollywood Park, in his first start for his new connections, Castledale won his United States debut, narrowly holding off Dealer Choice to take the Grade 3, $100,000 Generous Stakes.

Castledale, taking full advantage of his inside post, received a perfect trip from jockey Julie Krone. She kept Castledale on the rail until a quarter-mile remained, when she tipped Castledale three paths wide. Castledale took over at midstretch, but was fully extended to beat Dealer Choice by a nose in 1:35.43 for one mile on firm turf. Lucky Pulpit was two lengths farther back in third.

Castledale ($9.40) won just once in seven starts in Ireland, but finished in the money six times. Upon arrival in California, he was transferred to trainer Jeff Mullins, for whom Castledale turned in an eye-catching workout six days before the Generous.

"When I went to Ireland, I went to the races as much as possible, and I had several people from here tell me to try and find them a horse," Lyons said. "This colt ran twice in a week. He had seven races in nine weeks. He had a lot of fight. He had been racing on firm ground, but he was the soundest horse I saw over there. His wheels were excellent."

Lyons said he only has "a piece" of Castledale; Knee is the majority owner. Lyons said Castledale would be freshened and pointed to grass races for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita next spring.

Before turning to broadcasting, Lyons trained Desert Stormer, the winner of the 1995 Breeders' Cup Sprint.