07/26/2003 11:00PM

Dubai Sheikh bound for Saratoga

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Dubai Sheikh earned a trip to Saratoga when posting the first stakes victory of career Saturday in the $100,000 Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

Ridden by Jason Lumpkins, who had averted serious injury in a spill the previous day, Dubai Sheikh rallied from fifth in a field of seven older horses before driving past front-runner Shah Jehan to prevail by a neck. Sterling Gold was third, while Twilight Road, the 5-2 favorite, faded to last.

Dubai Sheikh, a 4-year-old gelding, returned $8.40 after finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.28 over a fast track. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Dale Romans, Dubai Sheikh will head to Saratoga, where he will face deeper competition in races such as the Alfred Vanderbilt and/or Forego handicaps.

For Lumpkins, the well-traveled veteran who began riding regularly in Kentucky last year, the Bernhardt came some 24 hours after he fell aboard Glitterwan, also trained by Romans, in the seventh race Friday. Despite going temporarily unconscious and suffering several injuries that left him extremely sore the next day, Lumpkins decided to ride Dubai Sheikh, although he did take off all other Saturday mounts.

"I came real close to saying, 'I can't make it,'" said Lumpkins.