08/31/2006 11:00PM

Fernando Po wins With Anticipation Stakes


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Fernando Po helped end a meet-long case of seconditis for trainer Mike Hushion by holding off a troubled Admiral Bird to win the $72,700 With Anticipation Stakes by a nose before a crowd of 17,993 on a twilight Friday card at Saratoga.

It was another nose back to favored Giant Chieftain, who edged out Twilight Meteor by one-half length for third.

Hushion had finished second in eight races from 32 starters at this meet including the Grade 1 King's Bishop and the Grade 1 Ballerina last weekend. Fernando Po, a 2-year-old son of Johannesburg was coming out of a third-place finish in a maiden turf race last out.

Fernando Po was extremely rank that day so Hushion decided to remove the blinkers from his equipment. Though he broke sharp, Fernando Po was much more relaxed under Edgar Prado as he stalked longshot Wise Captain through fractions of 24.27 seconds, 48.82 before taking the lead on the turn.

Fernando Po dug in along the rail as Admiral Bird and Giant Chieftain came with their runs through the lane. Admiral Bird may have won had he not tried to lug in for a good part of the stretch under Garrett Gomez. Coincidentally, Gomez took off Fernando Po to stick with Admiral Bird.

``In his last race he was real rank going into the first turn with Gomez and Mike decided to take everything off of him except the tongue tie and give him a chance to come away from there and relax a little bit and it seemed to work out pretty well except when he got squeezed a little bit on the first turn,'' said Graham Wolfram, Hushion's assistant.

Unfortunately, neither Hushion nor owner Barry Schwartz were in attendance to celebrate the victory. Both were attending the funeral of Barry Schwartz's brother-in-law who died earlier this week due to a heart attack at the age of 48.

Fernando Po covered the 1 1-16 miles over firm turf in 1:44.47 and returned $21.20 to win.