04/03/2004 12:00AM

Diplomatic Bag wins U.S. debut

Diplomatic Bag wins the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap over Statement by three-quarters of a length at Santa Anita on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Diplomatic Bag surprised trainer Bobby Frankel when he rallied from third to win the $150,000 , the day's third race.

"I didn't know that he had a turn of foot," said Frankel, who watched the race from Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

Throughout the 1 1/8 miles on turf, Frankel was concerned that jockey David Flores had left Diplomatic Bag with too much to do while stalking the pacesetter, Soud, and Statement, a stalker.

But through the stretch, Diplomatic Bag quickly went by Soud and slowly wore down Statement to win by three-quarters of a length. Diplomatic Bag ($10.20) was timed in 1:47.90.

The Arcadia was Diplomatic Bag's first start in the United States, following a stakes-winning campaign in France last year.

Statement finished second, two lengths clear of 7-1 Seinne in the field of seven. Ballingarry finished fourth, followed by Soud, Gigli, and Researched. Toccet was scratched early Saturday.

Soud, the 8-5 favorite, set slow fractions of 24.27 and 48.69 seconds, but was no factor in the final furlong.

Diplomatic Bag is owned by Juddmonte Farms. Last year, he won 3 of 5 starts in France while racing from 1 1/4 miles to about 1 9/16 miles on turf.

Frankel did not mention any specific goals for Diplomatic Bag but said the San Juan Capistrano Invitational over about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 18 is possible.