12/09/2002 1:00AM

Debonair Joe stuns Krone, too


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Julie Krone may have been the most surprised person at Hollywood Park when Debonair Joe won Saturday's Vernon Underwood Stakes - and paid $107.60.

Throughout the six-furlong race, Krone's emotions went from just hoping that the ex-claimer would pick up a check to the euphoria of producing an upset.

The Underwood is the first stakes victory of Krone's five-week-old comeback. Krone, 39, returned to riding on the final weekend of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in early November. The Underwood was her ninth winner of the Hollywood Park meet, good enough for a tie for seventh in the jockey standings through Sunday.

"Sometimes you just feel grateful," she said in the winner's circle. "It's fun to find a nut once in a while. Obviously, because the horse is a longshot you don't expect it."

Claimed for $12,500 at Fairplex Park in September, Debonair Joe was the longest shot in the field. After a rough start, in which Debonair Joe lugged out and soundly bumped 2-1 favorite Mellow Fellow, Debonair Joe was toward the back of the nine-horse field. Despite the position, Krone was happy with the way Debonair Joe was running.

"I'm going to get a check," Krone said she told herself on the backstretch. "This is very good."

With a wide rally, Debonair Joe was still only sixth at the quarter pole, well behind leaders F.J.'s Pace and Men's Exclusive, who Krone thought had the race to themselves.

"On the turn, I thought, 'Those two will take off and I'll be third,' " Krone said. "I threw him a cross and switched to the outside and he was going so fast."

Still fifth at the eighth pole, 3 1/2 lengths behind F.J.'s Pace, Debonair Joe rallied wide to win by a half-length. He closed remarkably in the final 50 yards and was one of four horses within a length at the finish.

"He reacted so wonderfully," Krone said. "I just needed somewhere to go."

The Underwood was the first time that Krone had ridden Debonair Joe in a race. "In the paddock, he kept getting more and more full of himself," she said.

As meaningful as the win was for Krone, the occasion left trainer Juan Pablo Silva near tears. Debonair Joe gave the 25-year-old Silva his first stakes win.

Continental Red's itinerary undecided

Continental Red's victory in Saturday's Great State Challenge Classic at Sam Houston Race Park opens up a variety of opportunities for the 6-year-old gelding.

Continental Red could appear next in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park Jan. 25, a race pitting California-breds against Florida-breds, trainer Ian Jory said. Or Continental Red may start in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf on the same day at Santa Anita.

The Great State Challenge was Continental Red's first stakes win on dirt, following a successful campaign on turf for owners Sharon and Wes Fitzpatrick.

"He loves the mud and if it rains it could be in his favor," Jory said.

Because of a herniated disc, Jory remained home in Southern California over the weekend. Jory, who watched the race on TVG, said he did not realize there was an inquiry involving the stretch run because the network was showing commercials when the inquiry sign went up. It was not until assistant trainer Tony Gonzalez called that he was aware of the drama.

"Tony asked me, 'What do you think?' " Jory recalled. "I said, 'About what?' "

In the end, there was no change to the order of finish.

California trainer Brian Lynch, who saddled Only the Best to an unplaced finish in the Juvenile, represented Jory in Houston.

"I wanted to go," Jory said. "I wanted to load up with a few drinks and go."

Sea Jewel out with foot bruise

Sea Jewel, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 26, will miss Saturday's Hollywood Starlet Stakes because of a bruised foot, trainer John Shirreffs said.

Her absence deprives the race of a logical contender to Composure, who won the Oak Leaf Stakes and was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Composure will be a heavy favorite in a field expected to include Rmisvesta, Summer Wind Dancer, Tizalovelylady, and Watching You.

The Saturday program also includes the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap over 1 1/8 miles. Grey Memo, the winner of the San Diego Handicap and Godolphin Mile earlier this year, will face Cottage, Euchre, Fleetstreet Dancer, Nose the Trade, Piensa, and Sonando.

On Sunday, Starrer will attempt to defend her title in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles. Her competition likely will be Adoration, Angel Gift, Cee's Elegance, Secret of Mecca, Surya, and Svea Dahl.

Storming Home going to Drysdale

Storming Home, a three-time stakes winner in Europe in the last 18 months, will join trainer Neil Drysdale later this month.

Owned by Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum, the 4-year-old Storming Home won the Godolphin Stakes and Group 1 Champion Stakes this year. In 2001, he won the King Edward VII Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting. More recently, Storming Home was 15th in the Japan Cup.

Drysdale said that Storming Home would be pointed for turf marathons in 2003.

Goodbye to alternate selections

Wednesday's program marks the first day bettors cannot use alternates in the pick four, pick six, and pick all.

Last week, track officials announced they would no longer offer alternates to California bettors in order to allow Autotote to send betting information from simulcast locations to host tracks in a more timely fashion.

In recent years, California bettors have had the option of using betting slips to mark alternates for the pick four, pick six, and pick all in the event that a main selection became a late scratch. Without the alternates, selections that become late scratches will be now replaced by the favorite.