06/15/2003 11:00PM

Handyman Bill wins Bay Meadows finale

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Handyman Bill ($20.80) avenged a loss as the odds-on favorite in an allowance race with a strong effort to win the $65,800 Foster City Handicap at Bay Meadows on closing day Sunday.

Handyman Bill stalked the pace of Metatron, took over into the lane and held off a late challenge by Ninebanks to win the 1 1/16-mile turf race by three-quarters of a length. Odds-on favorite Night Life was third another one-half length back. The winning time was 1:42.74.

"He shouldn't have lost last time," said winning trainer Mark Glatt of Handyman Bill's third-place finish in a $62,500 optional claimer on May 11.

"He didn't ship well so I did things differently. This time, we got here at 11 a.m. Thursday after I hauled him myself. Last time, he didn't get here until Friday night for a Sunday race, and he never relaxed."

The Father's Day victory was an emotional one for Linear Bannasch, whose husband, Bill, who died in February just before Handyman Bill's maiden victory, purchased the 4-year-old gelding for $37,000 at a Washington yearling sale.

"He's my best horse," Glatt said. "He beat a Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner (Ninebanks) legitimately and beat a horse who has been running well in Night Life."

Ron Warren Jr., the rider of Ninebanks, said, "The winner finished a lot better than I thought he was capable of. My horse fired, and I thought I was going to go right by him. I went right to him and then couldn't get by."

Handyman Bill will run next at Del Mar, and Glatt said the Longacres Mile is a possibility after that. Handyman Bill's victory, worth $33,850, was his fourth in nine starts. His career earnings are $112,900.