03/01/2003 12:00AM

Halo Cat wins San Carlos


ALBANY, Calif. - Halo Cat ($4) reversed a New Year's Day loss to I'madrifter, stalking the speedster before pulling away in the stretch to win the $61,350 San Carlos Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

I'madrifter, who won the Lafayette Handicap in wire-to-wire style on New Year's Day, again opened an easy lead over Halo Cat. But Halo Cat moved up into the lane and put his head in front at the eighth pole.

Fleetstreet Dance closed well, but Halo Cat was never seriously challenged down the lane, winning the one-mile race by 1_ (one one-quarter) lengths in 1:34.91. I'madrifter was third another length back.

It was the third stakes victory of the meet for Halo Cat, who also won the Albany and Montclair handicaps at six furlongs. He finished second in his other two starts in the Oakland and Lafayette handicaps.

"It was one of those rare occasions where the race went exactly like you expected," winning rider Russell Baze said. "The race came down to getting by I'madrifter and holding off the closers."

Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer credited Baze with a good ride.

"Russell knows Halo Cat," he said. "If you wait on (I'madrifter) too long, you probably couldn't run him down."

Hollendorfer said Halo Cat might run in the Berkeley Handicap, a one-mile $100,000 Grade 3 race on March 29. "That is as far as he wants to go, a mile," Hollendorfer said.

Halo Cat earned $33,900 to lift his career earnings to $287,145 with his ninth win in 22 starts.