06/15/2008 11:00PM

First Defence hangs on in Jaipur

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ELMONT, N.Y. - First Defence made a successful turf debut Sunday, setting all the early fractions under Javier Castellano and holding on for a head victory over Salute the Count in the Grade 3, $163,300 Jaipur Breeders' Cup Stakes at Belmont Park. It was one-half length back to Mohegan Sky in third.

First Defence, a son of Unbridled's Song out of the mare Honest Lady, was making his first start on grass after winning 4 of 9 dirt races in his career, including the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park. He also finished second to Hard Spun in the Grade 1 King's Bishop last summer at Saratoga. He was coming out of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, where he dueled with Commentator.

On Sunday, First Defence assumed the lead shortly after the start, carved out fractions of 21.93 seconds, 44.84, and 56.77 for five furlongs while opening up a two-length lead. He got a little tired in the last eighth of a mile, but was able to hold off Salute the Count, who was late in switching leads. First Defence, owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.48 over yielding turf and returned $4 as the favorite.

"I'm not sure if that family really likes it on soft turf,'' said Frankel, noting that the mother is related to turf stakes winners Decarchy, Chester House, and Chiselling. "Javier said he bobbled a few times, hopefully, that's why he was stopping.''