11/05/2005 1:00AM

Eastern Sand victorious in Silky Sullivan

Eastern Sand wins the Grade 3 Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

ALBANY, Calif. - Odds-on favorite Eastern Sand sat behind the slow pace of Mr. Splash and edged him in the final strides, winning a head bob to capture the $100,000 Grade 3 at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Jockey Victor Espinoza sat closer than usual because of the slow pace and raced wide for a clear trip. He moved closer into the lane but needed the length of the stretch to get by his rival in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. He won by a head in 1:49.03.

"That was not that easy," Espinoza said. "He's not the type that's going to open up by five. We didn't miscalculate this time. This race and the last race (a nose loss in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby) were both good races."

Trainer Jeff Mullins was pleased with Espinoza's ride because he kept Eastern Sand running all the way.

"He's just a big, long-striding, slow-running horse," Mullins said. "He can't come back if he breaks stride. If he ever has to steady, he's doomed."

But he never steadied and just did get up to earn the $55,000 winner's purse.

Eager Pharisien was third, beaten two lengths.

Eastern Sand, now 4-for-14 in his career, has career earnings of $266,208.