01/31/2005 12:00AM

Country Be Gold makes the grade

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Country Be Gold, winless in 21 previous graded-stakes races, finally broke through, splitting horses twice in the final quarter-mile to win the Grade 3, $110,300 by three-quarters of a length over 6-5 favorite Aggadan.

Aggadan, the 123-pound highweight, held second after prompting a hot early pace. Mahzouz finished a neck behind Aggadan in third.

Country Be Gold, under Jose Espinoza, got the hot pace he covets as Tales of Glory, Rogue Agent, Aggadan, and New York Hero mixed it up on the front end through a half-mile in 46.60 seconds. New York Hero opened a one-length lead around the turn, but Aggadan went right after him. Country Be Gold, meanwhile, split horses turning for home then did so again inside the sixteenth pole to outfinish Aggadan. Country Be Gold, getting nine pounds from Aggadan, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.80 and paid $47.20.