04/24/2008 12:00AM

Communique runs down Tejida

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Communique took 10 starts to win a first-level allowance race following her maiden win, but she was able to move forward off that April 4 victory and close a brilliant month at Keeneland with a late-running victory before 11,673 fans in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bewitch Stakes on Thursday.

Jockey Garrett Gomez was able to save ground on the final turn with Communique ($10.80), then picked his way through traffic and ran down favored Tejida, who led for all but the final 50 yards of the 1 1/2-mile grass race for older fillies and mares.

"I just tried to save some ground," Gomez said. "When I turned for home, I had one left to get by."

Communique was best by a half-length, with Tejida 1 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Rising Cross. Rusty Arnold trains Communique, who was timed in 2:28.91 on the firm course. Tejida, ridden by Javier Castellano, owned all the interior quarter-mile fractions - 25.25 seconds, 49.84, 1:14.78, 1:39.56, and 2:04.56.

Communique, 4, defeated maidens in February 2007 at Gulfstream Park, but then went on a nine-race losing streak, though she ran well in several stakes, including a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 American Oaks. She won an off-the-turf allowance race going 1 1/8 miles here April 4.

"She was bordering on a nice filly last year," Arnold said. "I think this is what she wants - a mile and a half."

Michael Matz, trainer of Tejida, said, "I just think she made her move a little too soon."

"It was a big jump from a mile and an eighth to a mile and a half," Matz said. "We're going to win one of these things with her sooner or later."

* Earlier in the day, Mr Mistoffelees ($3.60), purchased at auction two months ago for $1.5 million, made a dazzling racing debut by romping to a 9 1/4-length victory in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race for 2-year-olds.

Mr Mistoffelees, a colt by Storm Cat out of the stakes-winning Saint Ballado mare Country Romance, was timed in 50.02 seconds on Polytrack. John Velazquez was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Mr Mistoffelees was bred by Overbrook Farm and was purchased in Florida at a 2-year-old in training sale by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier, the wife of John Magnier.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch