12/27/2002 1:00AM

Debonair Joe upsets Malibu


ARCADIA, Calif. - Debonair Joe pulled his second stakes upset of the month in Thursday's $200,000 Malibu Stakes, giving Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone her first win at Santa Anita.

Debonair Joe ($55.60) ran seven furlongs in 1:22.40, closing from 10th on the backstretch to deny pacesetter Total Limit. American System, who fought with Total Limit for the lead throughout, finished third, a half-length behind the winner.

Golden Hare finished fourth, followed by Castle Gandolfo, My Cousin Matt, USS Tinosa, Timely Action, Mayakovsky, Shah Jehan and Sunday Break in the field of 3-year-olds.

Sunday Break, making his first start since finishing third in the Belmont Stakes last June, was third after a quarter-mile but was quickly out of contention.

"I'm not sure how much he likes being down on the rail," trainer Neil Drysdale said.

Krone kept Debonair Joe outside of the field, much like she did at Hollywood Park on Dec. 7 in the Vernon Underwood Stakes when the gelding rallied from seventh to post a 52-1 upset.

In the paddock, Krone told trainer Juan Pablo Silva that she wanted to use the same tactics in the Malibu.

"He's fun to ride," Krone said. "I just have to give him somewhere to go."

Debonair Joe broke well, and was wide on the backstretch racing at the back of the field. Krone kept Debonair Joe four-wide on the turn and five-wide entering the stretch. Fourth at the eighth-pole, Debonair Joe caught Total Limit in the final few strides.

"He had a real concept where the wire is," Krone said. "It was a wonderful performance from Joe."

Owned by Lynne Ristad, Debonair Joe was claimed for $12,500 during the Fairplex Park meeting last September. A gelding, Debonair Joe has won 6 of 18 starts and $314,085.

An opening day on-track crowd of 25,657 contributed to an overall handle of $16,470,970. The on-track crowd was the lowest for an opening day since 1950. In 2001, the on-track crowd was 27,713.