06/21/2004 12:00AM

Fly Esteem pulls off huge upset


CALGARY, Alberta - Fly Esteem ($83.70) became the longest-priced winner of the Alberta Derby on Saturday since Arctic Blitz paid $144.60 in 1989 and provided trainer Bob Kingston and rider Desmond Bryan with their most lucrative successes.

Kingston made two key changes before the 74th running of the Alberta Derby, adding a version of tongue tie known as a "running W" and putting Fly Esteem on Lasix for the first time.

The final piece of the puzzle fit into place for Bryan, who found himself all alone in second spot chasing the early pacesetter Saw Grass Sabre.

"My horse relaxed for me," Bryan said. "Last time he wanted to chase hard, but today he rated kind. I knew Saw Grass Sabre was sent hard, and we just sat behind him and waited for our chance."

Fly Esteem had faded to last in the Hoofprint on My Heart three weeks earlier, but he was full of run down the backstretch Saturday and responded when asked to open up a three-length lead turning for home.

Vancouver invader Lord Samarai made a belated bid under Dave Wilson, but fell a length shy at the wire and ended second in the field of 11.

Tamingo made a bold move down the backstretch, but flattened out in the stretch to finish third under Stephan Heiler and was reported to have bled.

Fly Esteem completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.00 and earned $63,000 in recording his fourth win in nine lifetime starts.