04/09/2004 11:00PM

Hippogator captures Miss America

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Hippogator ($38.60) scored a wire-to-wire victory over stablemate Marwood in the $83,775 Miss America Handicap at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

The 4-year-old filly set comfortable fractions under jockey Roberto Gonzalez as she maintained the advantage early over A B Noodle throughout. She opened in the lane, and A B Noodle did not respond immediately.

Hippogator maintained her advantage as her stablemate, who was always in good position, closed in the lane. She wound up three-quarters of a length in front of Marwood, winning the 1 1/16-mile turf race in 1:41.46. A B Noodle was third another length back, a neck in front of late-running favorite Hooked On Niners.

"Hippogator might get better with age," winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "This course plays a little bit for speed with the rail out (25 feet) out, and Bobby's one of the best speed riders I've ever seen. He can get them slowed down that second quarter. I was a little concerned with the 47 (second) half, but when I saw the rider have to ask A B Noodle, I felt confident."

"She's been running well, but it's nice to have her get a win," owner Dr. George Todaro said. "I have no idea what's next."

The victory, worth $50,025, increased Hippogator's bankroll to $144,445 with four wins from 13 starts. It was her first stakes win.