04/16/2010 12:00AM

Haka cruises in Doubledogdare


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the late going of Friday's Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland, tire tracks from the starting gate posed more of a challenge to victorious Haka than her four opponents.

Such was the deceptive dominance of her victory. Though her winning margin was relatively small - a length over pacesetter Funny Moon - Haka proved much the best in the $98,000 Doubledogdare, a 1 1/16-mile race on the Polytrack, after hesitating approaching marks on the racetrack in the final 20 yards of the race.

Haka, a 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, otherwise looked like a winner at most every other stage in the race.

With the exception of that late incident, trips don't come much better than the one Haka enjoyed. Confidently handled under Garrett Gomez, she stalked the pace in third early, as Funny Moon and No Use Denying dueled through an opening half-mile in 24.13 and 47.90 seconds.

Coming around the second turn, it proved time for Haka to make her move. With favorite Striking Dancer also making a sweeping wide rally, she was sent after the leader and she quickly caught Funny Moon down the lane

From there she seemed to coast for the remainder of the race, more interested in her surroundings than she was with her delivering a knockout blow. The winner raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.72, with a final sixteenth in 6.64 seconds indicative of her lack of focus in the stretch. She paid $9.40.

Christophe Clement trains the winner for owner Claiborne Farm. It was her first graded stakes victory, and followed a neck victory over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita in a first-level allowance Feb. 28 at Santa Anita.

Last year in two of her better performances, she had run second in both the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel and Grade 1 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita.

"She should have won a stakes before, but it took me two years," Clement said. "We finally did it today."

Funny Moon, also trained by Clement, narrowly held second by a head over 9-10 favorite Striking Dancer. Lady's Laughter followed her across the wire in fourth, with No Use Denying last in the field of five after stopping badly on the second turn.