02/11/2008 12:00AM

Halo Najib sharp in Ocala win


OCALA, Fla. - Halo Najib earned Kentucky Derby consideration with a resounding 2 3/4-length victory in Monday's $150,000 Darley-OBS Championship Stakes for 3-year-old males at 1 1/16 miles over the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co.'s all-weather track here.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Halo Najib, a 3-year-old colt owned by the Zayat Stable of Ahmed Zayat, stalked in third place following fractions of 23.60 seconds, 49.00, and 1:14.40 before making a determined move at the eighth pole to win going away. Hello From Heaven finished second, a length ahead of Ghostly Thunder. Halo Najib, a chestnut colt by Halo's Image, completed the distance in 1:46.40 It was the second win in five attempts for Halo Najib. He had previously finished second in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs and was third in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream in January.

"I can't tell you when and where he will race again," said trainer Dale Romans. "Mr. Zayat has a number of potential Kentucky Derby prospects, and we are going to have a meeting to decide who goes where and when. We don't want them bucking one another."

The five-race, all-stakes program was the first racing program to be run over the newly installed synthetic Safetrack surface. Jockey Edgar Prado, who won the $50,000 Florida Thoroughbred Charities Stakes aboard Straight Face, said the surface "felt good and secure. Horses handled the track okay. No problems."

In the $100,000 Darley-OBS Championship Stakes, Calico Bay showed that she was a filly for all racing surfaces with a galloping eight-length win. A daughter of Third Wonder, she is a stakes winner on dirt, and was twice a close-up fourth in a pair of turf stakes at Calder.

Jockey Manoel Cruz guided Calico Bay to a clocking of 1:46.40 for the 1 1/16 miles. Indy Alexandra was second, and Star Worship finished third.

* The Darley-OBS Sprint Championship Stakes for males carried a purse of $75,000. The filly division had a purse of $50,000 plus a season to the stallion Rockport Harbor. Banga Ridge won the filly division, racing six furlongs in 1:11.20. Ben and the Twin won the male division, going six furlongs in 1:11.40.