05/25/2008 11:00PM

Daytona outduels Ever a Friend

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INGLEWOOD, Calif.-Daytona won the second Grade 1 stakes of his career in Monday's $310,500 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park, but the circumstances of the victory were unexpected.

Daytona has led or disputed the pace in most of his recent wins, but in the Shoemaker he stalked Ever a Friend through a modest pace of 23.88 and 46.88 seconds. Ridden by Alex Solis, Daytona ($5.40) was always within a length of Ever a Friend. Solis moved Daytona alongside Ever a Friend in early stretch and they pulled away late to win by 1 1/2 lengths, finishing in a quick 1:33.44.

“I knew this horse could sit because he's a way better horse than he used to be,” Solis said. “You can do just about anything with him now. He's just a good horse.”

Ever a Friend, the winner of the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March, finished second, a neck in front of Hyperbaric in the field of seven. Perfect Drift, the 9-year-old who was making his first start of the year, finished fourth. Get Funky was a late scratch.

The Shoemaker marked the first meeting between Daytona, the winner of six graded stakes in Southern California since October, and Ever a Friend.

Owned by a partnership and trained by Dan Hendricks, Daytona has won 8 of 15 starts and $967,690. He won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November. This year, he has won 3 of 4 starts, including the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita last month. His only loss since last October was a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds in March.