09/07/2007 11:00PM

Doctor Dino finally has his day

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Deborah Kral/Horsephotos
Doctor Dino (left), ridden by Olivier Peslier, defeats Sunriver by a head in Saturday's Man o' War.

ELMONT, N.Y. - After missing out on two seven-figure races by a total of two lengths, Doctor Dino finally had his day to shine, outfinishing a stubborn Sunriver by a head to win Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park.

It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Grand Couturier, who was followed in the order of finish by Trippi's Storm, Shamdinan, Yellowstone, and Marsh Side.

The victory by Doctor Dino, a 5-year-old French-bred son of Muhtathir, capped a huge day for European-based horses. Earlier on the card, the Irish-bred Alexander Tango won the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies.

Despite his victory, Doctor Dino is "very unlikely" to continue on to the Breeders' Cup Turf, according to his trainer, Richard Gibson. Doctor Dino is not nominated and it would cost his owner Javier Martinez Salmean $270,000 to make the horse eligible. Instead, Doctor Dino is expected to ship home to France on Monday and freshen up for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup at the end of November.

Still, Gibson was elated to get this victory after Doctor Dino had finished third in the $1.9 million Singapore Airlines International and third, beaten three-quarters of a length in the Arlington Million last month.

"He's been a model of consistency for all of his career," Gibson aid. "He missed out on two big pots by very short distances. Today's our day."

Though Sunriver looked like he could be the controlling speed in the Man o' War, he found himself pressured by Yellowstone, the Irish-invader who was sent off the 2-1 favorite. Those two were heads apart through fractions of 24.93 seconds, 49.39, and 1:13.34.

Olivier Peslier had Doctor Dino right behind the leaders, but never far back. Approaching the five-sixteenths pole, Doctor Dino split horses and though Sunriver appeared to spurt away from him in upper stretch, Doctor Dino wore him down to get the victory. Doctor Dino covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:12.26 and returned $9.70.

"I followed the pacemaker down the backstretch," Peslier said. "Just before the last turn, I moved on the outside. He's handy and he's got a good turn of foot - and now he's got experience."

Sunriver had finished a neck behind Doctor Dino in the Arlington Million, which was run on softer ground than both colts prefer. Sunriver showed a lot of fight in the Man o' War but had to settle for second.

"We picked up the tempo considerably from the five-eighths pole on," said Garrett Gomez, Sunriver's rider. "He pretty much had to sprint for about five-eighths of a mile."