04/03/2005 1:00AM

Harvard Avenue victorious in Potrero Grande


ARCADIA, Calif. - In a race that featured three leaders in the final furlong, the come-from-behind rally of Harvard Avenue proved best in Sunday's $194,000 at Santa Anita.

Harvard Avenue trailed by as many as 16 lengths in the first quarter-mile and benefited from a quick pace to swoop past eight rivals in the final three furlongs. Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Harvard Avenue ($12.60) finished 6 1-2 furlongs in 1:16.12.

"I kind of got shuffled leaving there," Gomez said. "At the three-eighths pole, he did what he was supposed to do. At the quarter-pole, he exploded."

Harvard Avenue is trained by Doug O'Neill, who also started the pacesetter Perfect Moon. Through the first half-mile, Perfect Moon fought with Onebadshark through fractions of 21.30 and 43.97 seconds before emerging with the lead.

Perfect Moon led by a length at the eighth pole, but faded in the final furlong. Rushin' to Altar, eighth early, led briefly in the final furlong before being caught by Harvard Avenue, who won by a half-length. Rushin' to Altar finished two lengths in front of 13-1 Roi Charmant.

Harvard Avenue ended a 10-race losing streak dating back to the Lads Stakes at Emerald Downs in August 2003. Owned by Ron Crockett, Harvard Avenue has won 3 of 15 starts and $338,106.

The complexion of the Grade 2 Potrero Grande changed considerably on Sunday with the early scratch of morning-line favorite Kela by trainer Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell did not disclose specifics of Kela's condition, but said the 7-year-old "was not 100 percent."