07/28/2001 11:00PM

Flash recap: Serra Lake takes Go For Wand

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Serra Lake powered to the lead in the final sixteenth to notch a 1 3/4-length victory Sunday in the $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga Race Course before a crowd of 58,835 inflated by a hat give-away.

Trained by the suddenly red-hot Shug McGaughey, Serra Lake ($18.40) moved up along the rail on the turn and then rushed past Pompeii, March Magic and favored Beautiful Pleasure in the stretch to record her first Grade 1 stakes victory in the 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares.

Pompeii held second by 1 3/4 lengths over March Magic.

Serra Lake covered the nine furlongs in 1:49.62.

The victory was the fourth in her last five starts for Serra Lake, a 4-year-old daughter of Seattle Slew. The lone came in her last start, a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hempstead at Belmont Park.

Beautiful Pleasure, seeking to regain her brilliant 2000 form, darted out to a 12-length lead after a half-mile in 46.86 seconds. But she wilted in the stretch and wound up a weary fifth. Beautiful Pleasure, the champion older filly of 1999, was making her second start of 2001 after finishing seventh - and last - in the Hempstead.

Beautiful Pleasure, coupled in the wagering with Darling My Darling, was sent off at $1.30-1 odds.

Critical Eye, coming off a neck victory in the Hempstead, was a disappointing sixth as the $1.70-1 second-choice.

McGaughey was a horrid 1-for-40 at the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, but has won with five of his first 10 starters at Saratoga.

Secret Status was scratched after rearing in the starting gate and suffering a cut above her right eye.