07/20/2008 11:00PM

Ernesto makes it three in a row

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Ernesto ($21.60), who set a course record earlier in the meet at Lone Star Park, backed up that performance on Saturday with a 1 1/4-length win over favored Red Rock Creek in the $50,000 Bob Johnson Memorial. It was another two lengths back in third to Objective.

Ernestotrailed the field early, as Willow O Wisp set a pressured pace of 23.11 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.53 for the half-mile. Ernesto advanced strongly on the final turn, drifted some in midstretch, then went on to cover the distance on firm turf in 1:34.49.

Justin Shepherd rode Ernesto for owners James and Patricia Gallagher and trainer Danny Pish. The win was the third straight at the meet for Ernesto, who on July 4 set a course record for 7 1/2 furlongs when he covered the distance in 1:27.67 in a $45,000 optional claimer. He is a 5-year-old gelding by Royal Academy.