01/30/2005 1:00AM

Hoh Buzzard prevails in Brown Bess Handicap


ALBANY, Calif. - Hoh Buzzard ($4.40) got a perfect stalking trip behind Marty's Zee, took over in the stretch and easily defeated Uraib in the $100,000 on Golden Gate Fields' closing day Sunday.

The 5-year-old Irish mare covered 1 1/16 miles on a soft Lakeside Turf Course in 1:44.68, defeating Uraib, who was last early, by 1 1/4 lengths as she was easing away late. Last year's Brown Bess runner-up Hooked On Niners rallied for third.

"When I asked her, she gave me good speed. She went very easy," winning jockey Tony Farina said.

Winning trainer Ben Cecil, who won the race in 2004 with Red Rioja, said the mare was sidelined for nine months last year with a severe lung infection. He said the recent bad weather in Southern California had forced him to play catch-up in Hoh Buzzard's training.

"If she can get in first, she's tough to get by," Cecil said. "There's still some improvement to come. I think the confidence she got today will do her some good, plus the race itself. She's very nice. I'm not sure if she's of Grade 1 class, but off the Matriarch (where she was fifth beaten 3 1/2 lengths, she's not far off. We seem to have all her problems behind us."

Hoh Buzzard, who won the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs in her second start in the United States, has now won six of 16 starts. The $55,000 she earned Sunday boosted her career earnings to $286,839.