05/27/2001 11:00PM

Hal's Hope uses soft pace

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MIAMI, Fla. - Hal's Hope, benefiting from a surprisingly pedestrian pace, drew off to a 4 1/4-length victory over American Halo the $75,000 Memorial Day Handicap.

Breaking from post position one, Hal's Hope moved through inside Forty One Carats to assume command on the clubhouse turn from where he set fractions of 24.39 seconds and 49.65 while taken well off the rail in the run down the backstretch. The 2000 Florida Derby winner, Hal's Hope disposed of his early pursuer after completing six furlongs in 1:14.60 then drew off readily from American Halo.

American Halo attempted to challenge for command inside Hal's Hope approaching the three-eighths pole but had to take back when put in tight quarters entering the far turn. He came on again to briefly re-challenge the leader in early stretch but proved no match through the final furlong. Tahkodha Hills, who prompted the pace from outside, finished a tiring third.

A claim of foul by Rosemary Homeister Jr. aboard American Halo against Hal's Hope for alleged interference into the far turn was disallowed.

Forty One Carats, the 7-5 favorite, weakened badly, finished fifth and pulled up sore in his left front.

Hal's Hope, who is owned, trained, and bred by Harold Rose, returned $7.60 after covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.48 over a fast track.