05/14/2005 12:00AM

Forest Grove takes L.A. Times

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The versatile Forest Grove has successfully made the transformation from turf miler to stakes-winning sprinter.

Saturday in the $150,000 at Hollywood Park, Forest Grove won his first graded stakes under a perfect ride from jockey Corey Nakatani.

Forest Grove was always near the front. Nakatani kept him in fourth behind three pacesetters until the end of the backstretch. On the turn, Nakatani guided Forest Grove through along the rail to take the lead.

Forest Grove led by two lengths at the eighth pole. He held off 9-5 favorite Areyoutalkintome to score by three-quarters of a length. Forest Grove finished six furlongs in 1:08.57.

"It worked out as I had hoped," trainer Eoin Harty said. "I think we've found his niche is sprinting - at least that's what works for me."

Areyoutalkintome ran well despite racing four wide on the turn. He finished a length in front of Woke Up Dreamin, who was part of the pace. Tsigane finished fourth, followed by Shadow of Illinois and Hombre Rapido.

The Grade 3 Los Angeles Times Handicap marked Forest Grove's first stakes win since the Paterson Stakes on turf at The Meadowlands last October. At the time, he was trained by Todd Pletcher.

Owners Aaron and Marie Jones transferred Forest Grove to Harty last fall. The Los Angeles Times Handicap marked the 4-year-old colt's first win for Harty.