10/06/2007 12:00AM

Dirge gets up by a head

EmailThe odds-on Dirge got the job done - barely - in his stakes debut in the $60,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds at Philadelphia Park, catching Serene Harbor at the wire to win the 1 1/16-mile turf race by a head. Sonvida Red was third.

Ridden by Rajiv Maragh, Serene Harbor rated inside early and came through on the rail to take over from the pacesetting Sonvida Red coming off the turn. Serene Harbor drew clear in the stretch but didn't have enough left to hold off Dirge's determined late bid under jockey Eriluis Vaz.

The 5-year-old Dirge didn't make his career debut until April, when he lost his jockey in a steeplechase race for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, but since switching to the flat he has four wins and a second in five tries. Trained by Richard Hendriks, Dirge ($3.80) covered the distance on firm turf in 1:42.74.