01/24/2004 12:00AM

Dash: Saint Afleet by a head

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Saint Afleet scores a hard-fought head victory in the $250,000 Dash, the first of four Sunshine Millions races held at Santa Anita Saturday.

Saint Afleet won the $250,000 , leading or disputing the pace throughout and holding off stretch-long challenges from Cheiron, Ice Wynnd Fire, and Don'tsellmeshort, the second- through fourth-place finishers.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Saint Afleet chased Dad's Lessons on the backstretch, dueled with Don'tsellmeshort around the turn and then overcame late threats from Cheiron and Ice Wynnd Fire to win by a head.

A Florida-bred, Saint Afleet ($8.60) finished six furlongs in 1:08.68.

Ice Wynnd Fire, the 4-5 favorite, was well-placed behind the pacesetters turning for home. Jockey Jerry Bailey had Ice Wynnd Fire behind Saint Afleet and Don'tsellmeshort, nearly went between them in midstretch, but instead guided his mount to the rail. Through the final sixteenth, Ice Wynnd Fire gained ground but could not catch the winner, missing by a head and a nose.

Saint Afleet has won 3 of 5 starts and $191,220 for owner-breeder Ron Waranch and trainer Craig Dollase.