07/23/2005 12:00AM

Cool Conductor never looks back in Handicap


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Last year, when Cool Conductor saw daylight during a race he would make a run for it, dragging his rider along with him. That is no way to run for a turf horse that needs to save something for the finish, and Cool Conductor was worse for it.

But Cool Conductor always was something of a problem child. Now, at 4, he's a child no more, and Cool Conductor saw nothing but daylight Saturday, leading the Grade 3, $200,000 from start to finish, and coming home with a burst of speed that made him look like a contender for the Arlington Million three weeks from now.

Cool Conductor scored by 3 1/4 lengths over favored Vangelis, who never had a chance. Vangelis has a void in the speed department, and stayed back in last as Cool Conductor dawdled along through fractions of 25.04 seconds for a quarter-mile, 49.78 for a half, and 1:15.61 for three-quarters.

"We were hoping someone would go out there," conceded Ralph Nicks, who trains Cool Conductor, "but nobody wanted it, and when you give a good horse an easy lead with easy fractions, they're going to be tough to catch."

Cornelio Velasquez had no problem coaxing Cool Conductor to relax on the lead.

"He went very easy," Velasquez said. "I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch."

Had he been speaking Spanish, his native tongue, Velasquez might have found a stronger term, because Cool Conductor whistled into the stretch with a full head of steam. He ran his final quarter-mile in 22.70 seconds, and left the high-class Vangelis in his wake.

"With a closer like him, you're at the mercy of the pace," said Vangelis's rider, Ramon Dominguez.

Cool Conductor ($6.80) was timed in 2:02.26 for 1 1/4 miles on "good" turf. Vangelis easily was second, followed by Major Rhythm, B. A. Way, Cloudy's Knight, Artiste Royal, and Demeteor.

Modesty: Velasquez caps a triple

Million Preview Day at Arlington turned into Cornelio Velasquez Day, as Velasquez swept the three graded turf stakes here Saturday, capping off his remarkable afternoon with a perfect ride on Noisette in the Grade 3, $150,000 .

Trainer Bill Mott also had a decent day, winning both the Modesty and the American Derby, with Gun Salute. And up until this spring, Mott had also trained Cool Conductor, who won the Arlington Handicap an hour before the Modesty.

Noisette had gone winless in five starts this year, and most recently had finished third in the Lady Canterbury at Canterbury Park, but she was on go for the Modesty, sitting behind Ide Be a Lady's moderate pace before swinging out with a big finish. In second, of course, was Shaconage, who notched her third straight place finish, losing by a half-length to Noisette. It was another half-length back to Spring Season, with Ide Be a Lady holding fourth.

Noisette paid $12 to win and was timed in 1:57.30 for 1 3/16 miles.