07/27/2005 11:00PM

Henny Hughes on the money

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Henny Hughes took his first step to making good on the huge investment made by Darley Stable when he won Thursday's $150,000 by 3 3/4 lengths.

Earlier in the week, Henny Hughes was privately purchased by Sheikh Rajid bin Mohammed al-Maktoum, the son of Sheikh Mohammed. The purchase price was not disclosed, but sources familiar with the sale said the figure was about $4.3 million.

Henny Hughes, the 4-5 favorite, was never under any pressure from jockey Gary Stevens on his way to winning the six-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

When the gates opened in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, Henny Hughes broke cleanly and went to the lead. Short Circuit and Hold on Tight applied pressure for the first quarter-mile, but Henny Hughes shrugged them off and began to open up around the far turn.

Master of Disaster, the second choice in the six-horse field, finished second, 3 1/2 lengths clear of Union Course in third. Parkhimonbroad-way, Hold on Tight, and Short Circuit completed the order of finish.

Henny Hughes ($3.80) covered the distance in 1:10.38 over a fast track. He carved out fractions of 22.67 seconds, 45.93, and 57.68.

"There's no reason to think he won't," Stevens said when asked how Henny Hughes will handle route races.

The Saratoga Special was Henny Hughes's third win in as many starts. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Henny Hughes, a son of Hennessy, won his maiden at Monmouth in June and then won the Tremont at Belmont by 15 lengths.

On Thursday, Henny Hughes acted fractious when Biancone was saddling him, but the trainer said that had less to do with being upset then with being cocky.

"He could be anything," Biancone said. "He could be the next Secretariat - I don't know if he could be."

Biancone, who trained Henny Hughes for Gulf Coast Farms and Martin Cherry before the sale, admitted he felt pressure because of the big purchase price.

"There was a bit of pressure," Biancone said, "because a good horse can change your life."

Biancone said Henny Hughes will run next in the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 27.