01/07/2008 1:00AM

Chatain pulls away in Hal's Hope


Chatain successfully defended his title in Gulfstream Park's $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap, circling the field en route to an impressive 2 1/2-length triumph over 62-1 outsider Miner's Lamp in the Grade 3 event. The injury-prone Chatain, a 5-year-old son of Forest Wildcat, registered the first graded win of his career when outgaming Sir Greeley to capture the 2006 Hal's Hope.

Chatain was forced to rally six wide entering the stretch but settled nicely once straightening away for the drive to readily overtake the tiring leaders and win going away under jockey Cornelio Velasquez. Miner's Lamp outfinished Actin Good by a half-length to be second.

Chatain ran a mile in 1:36.39 over a track upgraded from good to fast earlier in the day. His time was nearly three seconds slower than his final clocking last year. Chatain paid $4.80 as the favorite in a scratch-reduced field of 11 older horses.

"He's been a frustrating horse to train because he's so injury-prone, but it's been worth it because when he does come to run, he always responds," said Angel Penna Jr., who trains Chatain for the Lazy F Ranch.

* Earlier in the day, the placing judges couldn't separate Lady Marlboro and Golden Velvet, who dead-heated for the win in the $100,000 Sabin Handicap. Mini Sermon, who had defeated the top pair seven weeks earlier in Aqueduct's Top Flight Handicap, finished a tiring third as the 7-5 favorite in a field of only five fillies and mares.

Lady Marlboro slipped along the rail, finishing gamely from tight quarters down the stretch to seemingly overtake Golden Velvet at the wire. Golden Velvet rallied three wide from off a contested pace, grabbed a brief advantage near midstretch, and was all out to preserve the dead heat.

"I thought I got beat, so I'll settle for the dead heat," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Golden Velvet.

Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Lady Marlboro, said: "I thought my filly got to the lead right before the wire but lost the bob."