03/17/2002 12:00AM

Explicit best in Pelleteri

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NEW ORLEANS - The California-based Explicit has traveled from coast to coast, running in sprint stakes throughout his career. His first trip to New Orleans netted him his first stakes win, when he won the $150,000 Pelleteri Breeders' Cup on Sunday at Fair Grounds.

Explicit ($17.20) had won only three of 20 starts coming before Sunday, but solid finishes in graded stakes stamped him as a likely contender in the ungraded Pelleteri, which lacked the region's best sprinter, Bonapaw, who is to run in Dubai this weekend. Explicit finished fifth in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Jan. 27 at Santa Anita, then traveled to Gulfstream Park to finish fifth in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap two weeks later. Both races were run on wet tracks that were not to Explicit's liking.

"This horse does not like off tracks," said Ian Jory, who trains Explicit for owner-breeder Marvin Malmuth. "We got the track we wanted today and he ran great. When this horse is game, he can run with the best of them."

Explicit also can run a quarter-mile as fast as the best of them, but in the Pelleteri he sat just behind the pacesetting pair of Abajo and Entepreneur. Those two hooked up to run the first quarter mile in 21.63 seconds, with Explicit and jockey Lonnie Meche poised to strike. Meche gave Explicit his head coming off the turn, and though Entrepeneur fought back gamely, he was not match for the winner from the furlong marker to the wire, and Explicit drew away to win by one and one-quarter lengths. His time of 1:09.25 equaled the stakes record, which was recorded in fifths of a second.

Entrepeneur finished well despite a tough trip to hold off Crucible for the place, while Abajo and Robin de Nest, the favorite and the second choice, brought up the rear of an eight-horse field.