05/21/2001 12:00AM

Churchill: Megans Bluff with ease


Megans Bluff easily won the Grade 3, $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs Saturday. Megans Bluff rated behind the pace set by Trip, then blew past at the top of the stretch and won by 2 1/4 lengths.

The longshot Sitka made a late run in midtrack to finish second, with Good Game third. Megans Bluff, a narrow second choice to Trip, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.88 on a turf course upgraded from yielding to good in the middle of Churchill's program.

A 4-year-old by Pine Bluff, Megans Bluff had a great 2000 season for owner James Routsong and trainer John Hennig, winning six of 12 starts and more than $450,000. Megans Bluff started this year with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Suwannee River at Gulfstream, but rebounded with a second in the Hillsborough at Tampa and a third in her last start, the Sixty Sails at Sportsman's.

Trip set a quick pace in the Mint Julep for a course that had taken rain, reeling off six furlongs in 1:11.71, and Megans Bluff ($8), ridden by Craig Perret, was in perfect position to take command when Trip tired turning for home. She easily held clear Sitka's late move.