10/13/2007 12:00AM

Criminologist overpowers Athenia foes

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Approaching the top of the stretch of Saturday's Gradeo3 Athenia Handicap, the trio of Criminologist, Fantastic Shirl, and Dance Away Capote all began to launch their bids after the loose-on-the-lead longshot Beautiful Daniele.

But by the time the field straightened away into the stretch, it was Criminologist's move that proved the most explosive as she ran away from her five rivals en route to a 4 1/2-length victory in the $109,100 Athenia before 5,772 at Belmont Park. I'm In Love, who trailed the field through six furlongs, got up for second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Dance Away Capote, the even-money favorite.

Fantastic Shirl, Mabadi, and Beautiful Daniele completed the order of finish.

It was the third straight victory for Criminologist and her first in a graded stakes race. She is owned by Stuart Janney and the Phipps Stable and is trained by Shug McGaughey.

"She's gotten pretty good," McGaughey said. "She's been ready to run for a couple of weeks, just watching her around the barn."

Under John Velazquez, Criminologist stalked the pace-setting Beautiful Daniele through fractions of 25.21 seconds, 51.13 and 1:16.55. Velazquez didn't move on Criminologist until Dance Away Capote and Fantastic Shirl came outside to the filly's outside at the five-sixteenths pole.

"I told Johnny she ain't got a real long run, but I could tell when they came to her he probably hadn't asked her to do anything yet," McGaughey said. "When he asked her it was over with."

Criminologist, a 4-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.09 over yielding turf and returned $6.20 to win.

"I just let the speed horse go and waited as long as I could to make a move," Velazquez said. "When I asked her, she just went. Those are the kind of horses I like."

Alan Garcia, the rider of favorite Dance Away Capote, said his filly didn't handle the yielding turf.

"She didn't want to go anywhere," Garcia said. "She kept the same pace the whole race, but I know that she is better than that."

* The Green Monkey, who sold for a world-record $16 million at auction last year, finished fourth, beaten eight lengths by Giant Deputy, in his second career start on Saturday. He finished third in his debut last month.

* Apprentice rider Carol Cedeno, 19, won her first race in New York Saturday when she guided Bizzy Trick ($11.60) to victory in the sixth race. It was her 75th career victory, 51 of which have come at Philadelphia Park.