05/19/2007 12:00AM

Flashy Bull takes Schaefer by a head

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BALTIMORE - Setting the stage for Preakness drama, Flashy Bull outgamed Hesanoldsalt in a sensational stretch-long duel Saturday in the Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer Handicap, the lead-in race to the 132nd Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

With Flashy Bull racing near the rail and Hesanoldsalt right alongside, the two fought tooth-and-nail for the entire stretch, with Flashy Bull, ridden by Alan Garcia, emerging as the best by a head.

Owned by the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Flashy Bull paid $8.40 as the second choice in a field of eight older runners. He finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.86.

Flashy Bull has now won three straight races this year, with the Schaefer marking his first stakes win. The 4-year-old colt by Holy Bull has won 4 of 17 overall starts. He earned $60,000 from the $100,000 purse.

Take the Bluff set the early pace while Flashy Bull, who broke cleanly from his outside post, assumed the best stalking position. Into the far turn, Garcia sent Flashy Bull to the lead, after which Hesanoldsalt, the even-money favorite, soon moved to his outside to challenge. From there, the battle was joined.

"From the quarter-pole on, my horse just gave everything to the finish," Garcia said.

Ryan's for Real finished third, another five lengths back. He was followed by Take the Bluff, Belongs to Joe, Two Sixty Four, Sunriver, and Urban Conquest. Smelling Salts was an early scratch.

West Point spokesman Jeff Lifson said before the race that, if Flashy Bull ran well in the Schaefer, the colt most likely would be pointed to major summer races such as the Whitney and Woodward at Saratoga.

Maryland Sprint: Diabolica outduels 'Talent'

While his trainer convalesced at home, Diabolical drove to a popular victory Saturday in the Grade 3 Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico Race Course.

Bet down to even-money favoritism in a field of seven older horses, Diabolical got a great trip when lapped onto front-running Talent Search for most of the six-furlong Maryland BC. Down the stretch, Diabolical proved relentless under Mario Pino, edging away in the final furlong to prevail by three-quarters of a length. He returned $4 after finishing in 1:09.16 over a fast track.

Diabolical's trainer, Steve Klesaris, was in an automobile crash Friday near his primary base, Delaware Park, and had been released from the hospital earlier Saturday. Klesaris's vehicle was totaled, and he underwent cosmetic surgery on his eye but otherwise was fortunate to escape serious injury.

Diabolical, a 4-year-old Artax colt co-owned by Klesaris and the Puglisi Stables, now has won 7 of 18 career starts. He earned $120,000 from the $198,500 total purse, lifting his bankroll to $600,900.

Talent Search, the 9-2 third choice, broke quickest, but Diabolical was alongside by the time the field hit the far turn. Around the turn and in the upper stretch, the pair staged a prolonged duel while racing away from the others, with Diabolical gaining the upper hand when it counted.

"I wanted to keep the heat on," said Pino, who was scheduled to ride one of the major Preakness contenders, Hard Spun, later in the day. "So I keep putting pressure on my horse, and he responded nicely."

Semaphore Man finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Talent Search. Then came First Word, Celtic Innis, Fleet Valid, and Euro Code.

-Marty McGee

Gallorette 'Kitten' sets course record

The best horse got the best trip and therefore got the best result in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Gallorette Handicap.

Precious Kitten ($4.60), under Rafael Bejarano, stalked the pace from third, made a three-wide sweep to the lead in the upper stretch and held off A True Pussycat in deep stretch to win the Gallorette by three-quarters of a length.

Precious Kitten's final time of 1:40.32 for the 1 1/16 miles eclipsed the Pimlico turf course record of 1:40.33 set by Air Attack on May 27, 1991.

A True Pussycat, who lacked running room in the upper stretch, finished second three-quarters of a length ahead of Trick's Pic. Grigorieva, who was rank early, rallied for fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Aunt Henny, Feelin' the Breeze, Humoristic, and High Moment.

It was the third win from six starts for Precious Kitten since being moved to trainer Bobby Frankel's barn last fall. Overall, it was the fourth win from 13 starts for the Ken and Sarah Ramsey home-bred daughter of Catienus.

"I had the best horse in the race," said Bejarano, who won his second consecutive stakes race on the card.

"She had a very nice trip to the quarter pole and once I let her go she gave me everything."

The victory was an emotional one for Ken Ramsey, whose wife, Sarah, is recovering from a stroke she suffered in February that left her paralyzed on her right side.

"She can't walk and she can only say a few words, it's been really devastating for the entire family as well as her, but she is recuperating," Ken Ramsey said. "We will get her walking and talking again. She's watching on ESPN; I'm sure that cheered her up. That's the best therapy she can get."

-David Grening

Turf Sprint: Heros Reward rallies

One year after the most somber race of his career, jockey Edgar Prado scored with his first mount on this year's Preakness Stakes card when guiding favored Heros Reward to victory in the $100,000 Baltimore City Turf Sprint on Saturday at Pimlico.

Heros Reward ($7.60) caught pacesetter Bingobear inside the sixteenth pole and was going away at the finish while scoring by one length. Mr Mutter, who ran into traffic problems at a critical point in the stretch, finished a head farther back in third.

Heros Reward covered five furlongs on firm turf in 55.90 seconds.

Prado, a mainstay on the Maryland circuit for years before going to New York, was the regular rider of Barbaro, who suffered catastrophic injuries in last year's Preakness.

"We had a beautiful race," Prado said of his trip on Heros Reward. "We got off to a clean break and I was able to sit behind the speed. When I had a chance, I took the horse outside and we took over."

Dale Capuano trains Heros Reward for Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz. Heros Reward, 5, has now won six times in 16 starts, including victories in four straight turf sprints at Pimlico and Gulfstream Park.

His task was made easier by the scratch of the mare Unbridled Sidney, who ran, and won, here on Friday in the The Very One Stakes.

Bingobear led through fractions of 21.97 seconds for a quarter-mile and 44.38 seconds for a half-mile.

"It seemed like throughout he was taking all the heat," said Garrett Gomez, who rode Bingobear. "In the stretch he really dug in and fought hard for us."

- Jay Privman