07/05/2002 11:00PM

Easyfromthegitgo wins Iowa Derby

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Easyfromthegitgo parlayed a ground-saving trip under jockey Donnie Meche into a neck victory over pacesetter Pass Rush in Friday night's $250,000 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows.

Meche waited patiently while racing in striking range along the rail as Pass Rush set the pace inside of Vito Corleone through a half-mile in 46.97 seconds. Danthebluegrassman, the 6-5 favorite with $183 more wagered on him than Easyfromthegitgo who also was 6-5, joined the dueling leaders entering the second turn to make it three in a line around the bend.

Meche briefly waited for racing room along the rail entering the stretch as Danthebluegrassman began to fade. Easyfromthegitgo ($4.40) squeezed through a narrow opening inside of Pass Rush a furlong out and responded to Meche's left-handed urging to prevail. Easyfromthegitgo, a son of Dehere covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.59.

Pass Rush and Pat Day finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of Thunderpumper, who was third, while Danthebluegrassman, who had his chances compromised when he hopped at the start, finished last in the five-horse field.

The Iowa Derby was Easyfromthegitgo's second career stakes score and his fourth win overall in 12 starts for trainer Steve Asmussen. The $150,000 winner's share of the purse sends Easyfromtheitgo's earnings to $496,890 for owners James Cassels and Bob Zollars.

* Favored Sweet Nanette ($5.40) rallied through the final furlong under jockey Craig Perret to collar Iowa-bred Trisha Runs late to score a half-length victory in Friday's co-featured $125,000 Saylorville Stakes for fillies and mares.

Sweet Nanette, a 4-year-old daughter of You and I, won for the sixth time in 10 career starts while covering the six furlongs in 1:09.89. Trisha Runs, the longest shot in the six-horse field at 43-1, gamely saved second after dueling from the rail throughout under jockey Perry Compton.

Defending champion Miss Seffens had a good trip, saving ground throughout under Pat Day, and finished third, three-quarters of a length behind Trisha Runs.

Dallas Stewart trains Sweet Nanette for West Point Thoroughbreds.