08/18/2007 12:00AM

Gottcha Gold springs second straight upset


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Gottcha Gold has turned into the giant killer this summer at Monmouth Park.

The 4-year-old colt scored his second stakes upset on Saturday with an overpowering 4 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes.

In late June, Gottcha Gold held off Lawyer Ron in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile by a neck at 10-1. The Salvator, in hindsight, became even more impressive when Lawyer Ron returned to win the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

Gottcha Gold proved the Salvator was no fluke with a second straight graded victory in a field that included Master Command and Papi Chullo. This time the odds were 15-1.

Brother Bobby rallied for second with Indy Wind third.

As usual, speed was Gottcha Gold's best weapon. Barcola, breaking from the outside in the eight-horse field, shot to the front as the field passed the stands for the first time. Chuck Lopez gunned Gottcha Gold into contention from the inside.

Barcola and Gottcha Gold battled head-to-head through a half-mile in 46.05 seconds. Gottcha Gold pulled clear on the final turn and only Brother Bobby offered a meaningful rally.

"We'll definitely look at the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile," said trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. "I might sit on him until then. He likes the surface and I'm not sure he needs a race between now and then."

Monmouth hosts the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 26-27.

Gottcha Gold ($32.20) ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.36 on the fast track.

Master Command, the 6-5 favorite before a crowd of 11,114, was fourth - followed by Barbican, Papi Chullo, Tasteyville, and Barcola.

Cherokee Country, Atoned also win stakes

The two $60,000 supporting stakes were taken off the turf because of Friday's torrential late-afternoon downpour

Cherokee Country posted his third stakes win in four races with a four-length victory in the Anderson Fowler for 3-year-olds.

It was the third of four wins on the day for jockey Jose Lezcano and second for trainer Ramon Preciado.

Cherokee Country ($4.20), far back in the early stages of the four-horse race, swung to the middle of the track for the stretch run and swooped past the pack for his seventh win in 13 career starts.

The time was 1:03.65 for 5 1/2 furlongs.

Heezafrequentflyer was second, followed by Southwestern Heat and Tempt Me Not.

Atoned ($6.80) was also a rallying winner in the Continental Mile for 2-year-olds.

Ridden by Chris DeCarlo for trainer Todd Pletcher, Atoned has won both starts since stretching out to a mile. Overall, the son of Repent is 2-1-0 in 4 starts. The time was 1:38.89.

Hop Skip and Away, the lone New Jersey-bred in the field, finished second with Run Sully Run third.