07/26/2008 12:00AM

Ground-saving trip pays off for Sirmione

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Sirmione took the shortest way home under John McKee, sticking close to the rail for the entire one-mile trip when emerging victorious in a three-way photo in her stakes debut, the $50,000 HBPA Handicap at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., on Saturday.

Bred and owned by Clovelly Farms, Sirmione returned $15.80 after finishing in 1:35.17 over firm turf. Ballado's Thunder, the race-long front-runner, finished second, a neck behind the winner and just another nose before Mama I'm Home, the 2-1 favorite in a field of 10 fillies and mares.

Sirmione, a 4-year-old Cozzene filly, had won twice in 12 previous starts and was coming off a fourth-place finish in an allowance race at Churchill Downs, where she is based with veteran trainer Steve Penrod.