12/16/2006 1:00AM

Florida Keys proves he can go turf or dirt


PHOENIX - Florida Keys won the Walter R. Cluer on turf last month and showed he could be just as effective on the main track as he posted his first dirt victory in Saturday's $40,000 Black Mountain Handicap at Turf Paradise.

The 5-year-old gelding, the 6-5 favorite in the field of nine going a mile, sat midpack while outside, surged to the lead into the lane, looked beaten when Trail This moved past him in midstretch along the rail, but gamely battled back under Jocelyne Kenny late, edging away to win by three-quarters of a length. Trail This, who had prompted the pace and battled with the winner through the lane, finished second, more than a length ahead of rallying Prorunner in third.

Florida Keys, owned by Ralph Dipiero 3rd and trained by Troy Bainum, paid $4.60 as the favorite, getting the mile in 1:35.21. The winner's share of $24,000 pushes his career bankroll to $237,815 from eight victories in 25 starts.