03/17/2008 12:00AM

Celtic Dreamin back on top

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Two weeks after an inexplicably poor try in the Santa Anita Handicap, Celtic Dreamin returned to his best form and rallied with determination to prevail narrowly in the $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap for California-bred turf horses at Santa Anita.

The Crystal Water marked the turf debut for Celtic Dreamin, but he was closer to the main track as the field turned into the stretch. Despite getting fanned at least six paths wide when making his rally, Celtic Dreamin persevered under jockey Alex Solis and defeated Mr. Wolverine and pacesetter Lucky J.H. in a three-way photo finish.

Celtic Dreamin ($7.20), the second choice, won by a neck, with Mr. Wolverine a head better than Lucky J.H., the favorite. Celtic Dreamin was timed in 1:34.10 on the firm course.

Rafael Becerra trains Celtic Dreamin, 4, for owner K.K. Sangara. The win was his sixth in 11 starts. He has finished first or second in 10 of 11 races. His only poor try was in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 1, when Celtic Dreamin finished last of 14. But he came out of the race well, then worked sharply on the turf on March 10, prompting Becerra to wheel Celtic Dreamin back for a race in just 15 days.

Earlier this meet, Celtic Dreamin finished second in the Sunshine Millions Classic to Go Between. He also was second in last fall’s Cal Cup Classic.