03/19/2005 12:00AM

Chinese Dragon rallies from far back in Pasadena

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Chinese Dragon extricated himself from traffic at the quarter pole, then accelerated and roared past his rivals Saturday to capture the $82,300 Pasadena Stakes. A grass stakes race for 3-year-olds, the Pasadena was the supporting feature at Santa Anita. The San Felipe Stakes, the day's feature, was run later in the day.

Chinese Dragon ($9.40) had unleashed a similar closing charge to beat a first-level allowance field in his U.S debut on Feb. 5. On Saturday, he sat well off the pace while confidently handled by Kent Desormeaux, then displayed an impressive turn of foot once Desormeaux tipped him to the middle of the track at the top of the stretch.

Tenth of 12 with a half-mile to go, Chinese Dragon flew home to check in 2 1/2 lengths in front of Eastern Sand, with Shamoan another two lengths back in third. Chattahoochee War, the 3-1 second choice, was fourth, with favored Sunny Sky eighth.

A light rain fell all day at Santa Anita and left the turf course in good condition. Chinese Dragon was timed in 1:35.36 for one mile. The early fractions of 22.62 seconds, 46.67, and 1:10.66 for the first six furlongs belonged to the longshot Tommy's Topper, who tired to finish fifth.

Bob Hess Jr. trains Chinese Dragon for a partnership of Michael Carter, Richard Hale, and Gino Roncelli. A son of Stravinsky, Chinese Dragon has now won three times in four starts.