07/29/2003 11:00PM

Don'tsellmeshort upsets Graduation Stakes

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Don'tsellmeshort stunned trainer Dan Hendricks with an upset win in Wednesday's $125,000 Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

Ridden by superb gate jockey Patrick Valenzuela, Don'tsellmeshort led throughout the 5 1/2 furlongs to win by three lengths.

"I didn't think he'd outbreak and outrun those horses that easily," Hendricks said.

Don'tsellmeshort had finished fourth as the favorite after a poor start in the Haggin Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 21, but made no mistakes in the Graduation Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds.

He led by a 1 1/2 lengths after a quarter-mile in 22 seconds and extended his lead through the stretch. Owned by Cecil Peacock, Don'tsellmeshort ($19.20) was timed in 1:04.31. Stalking Tiger, the winner of the Haggin Stakes, hit the gate at the start and rallied three-wide to reach contention in early stretch. Sent off at 7-10, Stalking Tiger could not make up the difference, but finished two lengths in front of Military Mandate in the field of eight.

"I hate to make excuses. Maybe at 5 1/2 furlongs you can," said Paul Aguirre, the trainer of Stalking Tiger. "I think he'll be a little better going longer."

Don'tsellmeshort has won 2 of 4 starts and $116,113. He was purchased by Peacock for $75,000 at the Barretts May Sale of 2-year-olds in-training and earned that amount in Wednesday's race.

"It was like being able to claim a horse and being able to vet him out," Hendricks said of the sale. "We got our purchase price back."

Hendricks said that Don'tsellmeshort will be pointed for the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes over six furlongs for state-breds on Sept. 8.