06/24/2007 12:00AM

Chief's Lake takes his turn in Mike Lee


ELMONT, N.Y. - Chief's Lake ran into a monster when he finished third in his 3-year-old debut last month. In Sunday's $107,700 Mike Lee Handicap, Chief's Lake was the monster, dueling early with three other horses before bounding clear to a 3 1/4-length victory at Belmont Park.

Stunt Man finished second, a half-length ahead of Dr. V's Magic. Berry Bound finished fourth and was followed by even-money favorite What a Tale and I’m a Numbers Guy.

Chief's Lake, who won three of six starts as a 2-year-old, including the Sleepy Hollow Stakes over this track, was beaten 4 3/4 lengths by the undefeated Bustin Stones in the Screenland Stakes on May 9. It was Chief's Lake’s first start in nearly seven months.

Sunday, Chief’s Lake demonstrated that race sharpened him up as he was part of a four-way duel for the early lead, before taking over from What a Tale turning for home and winning relatively easy under Garrett Gomez. Chief's Lake, a son of Yonaguska owned by the Vinery Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.14 and returned $8.90 to win.

The Mike Lee is the first leg of the Big Apple Triple. If Chief's Lake can win the New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 14 and the Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 22 - both two turn races - he would earn his owners a $250,000 bonus.

Accountforthegold romps in Gander

One race earlier, favored Accountforthegold ($3.90) took over from pacesetting Starcastic early on the far turn then rolled to a 9 1/4-length victory over Organizer in the $69,500 Gander Stakes for older New York-bred colts and geldings. Accountforthegold, ridden by Mike Luzzi, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.53 for owners Harold Lerner and Winning Move Stable and trainer Gary Contessa. Contessa also saddled third-place finisher Building New Era.