05/22/2005 12:00AM

Favored Pickle wins Yerba Buena

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ALBANY, Calif. - Favored Pickle ($4.80), sat back early and had plenty left when she shifted out for room in the lane as she won her second straight Grade 3 event, beating Marla Bay by one-half length to capture the $80,625 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

The 4-year-old British-bred filly improved her American record to three wins in four starts with the victory.

She relaxed off the early pace set by Midwife and found herself wide entering the backstretch in the 1 1/16-mile race on the Lakeside Turf Course. She was content to sit behind Midwife's sensible fractions but quickly moved into contention after leaving the quarter pole.

She shifted out in the lane, getting into the clear and outkicked Marla Bay home, running the final 3/16ths of a mile in 28.83 to win the race in 1:41.72. Pacesetting Midwife was third, three lengths behind the winner.

"She was relaxed in the early part and eased up to within striking distanced without any problem," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "At the 5/16ths pole, I asked her, and she went right on."

In her lone U.S. loss when she was third behind First Draft and Marla Bay, beaten only a neck when she hesitated when trying to split rivals. She wasn't hesitant at all on Saturday.

"The other filly just finished too fast for us," Marla Bay's rider Frank Alvarado said.

Midwife set a sensible pace but "she didn't fire when it was time to run," said her rider Franciso Duran.

The winner added $41,250 to her bankroll, which now stands at $188,855 with seven victories in 18 starts.