09/23/2001 12:00AM

Crash Course aces Cliff Hanger


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Crash Course, whose racing career nearly ended 18 months ago because of a variety of injuries, continued his improbable comeback Saturday night when he rallied to win the $150,000 Cliff Hanger Handicap at the Meadowlands.

"He's amazing. Just a year and a half ago we thought he was done," said Billy Croll, son of Crash Course's Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Croll. "He was sore all over with all kinds of muscle problems and skeletal problems. But we gave him about three or four months off and he's really come back better than ever."

The 5-year-old son of Holy Bull had been compromised by slow paces in four straight stakes races coming into the 1 1/16-mile contest held over a good course. He paid $15.60 under jockey Rick Wilson and finished in 1:43.14.

"I've been calling on him and all he ever wanted was a pace to run at," said Wilson. "The turf was a little soft and that helped soften up the leaders. Every time I've been on him he's had no pace to run at. I knew tonight he had all he needed."

Longshot Solitary Dancer followed 1 3/4 lengths back in second, narrowly catching 2-1 third choice Union One. Favored Dr. Kashnikow finished fourth beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by the winner.