05/29/2005 11:00PM

Ecclesiastic wins first stakes in Jaipur


Ecclesiastic ended a career's worth of frustration by outfinishing favored Old Forester to win Sunday's Grade 3, $111,600 by a head at Belmont Park. Old Forester held second, two lengths ahead of Gulch Approval.

It was the first stakes win and just the third win overall for Ecclesiastic, a 4-year-old son of Pulpit owned and bred by Joe Allen. Ecclesiastic broke a 10-race losing streak and recorded his first win in nine tries on turf.

Under Cornelio Velasquez, Ecclesiastic raced up close to the pace in fifth position early on. He got shuffled back to sixth on the turn before Velasquez was able to get him into the clear approaching the quarter pole. Ecclesiastic engaged Old Forester in upper stretch and outfinished that rival, who was carrying six pounds more than Ecclesiastic.

Trained by Allen Jerkens, Ecclesiastic ($19.60) covered seven furlongs in 1:20.71 over a firm Widener Turf Course.

"I had a feeling that he was sharp right now, and I thought he could get up at seven [furlongs]," said Jerkens, who won this race for the third time in seven years. "He's got some speed. He blew out real sharp the other day, and I felt pretty good about that."

* Earlier on the card, Talented lived up to her name by romping to a six-length victory in the $60,750 Twist Afleet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Talented, who veered in at the break, made the lead after a quarter-mile in 22.41 seconds and widened her advantage throughout under Jerry Bailey. Talented, trained by Todd Pletcher for Padua Stables, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.83 and returned $2.80 as the favorite.