07/15/2005 11:00PM

Honey Ryder overcomes all to win R.G. Dick


STANTON, Del. - Soft turf, slow fractions, and having no room to run for a mile all proved to be minor inconveniences for Honey Ryder.

A 4-year-old filly ridden by Edgar Prado for trainer Todd Pletcher, Honey Ryder ($3.60) overcame every possible obstacle to draw clear to a 5 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Handicap at Delaware Park.

The older fillies and mares Honey Ryder faced in the 1 3/8-mile Dick, contested over a yielding course, weren't nearly as fierce as those she had defeated earlier this year in the Grade 2 Orchid Handicap and the Grade 3 The Very One Handicap, both at Gulfstream Park.

But given how Honey Ryder handled extremely soft ground, turtle-like fractions of 51.44 seconds for a half-mile and 1:16.82 for six furlongs, plus a boxed-in trip in a crowded field, Prado and assistant trainer Mike McCarthy were extremely pleased with her dominating performance.

"I thought it was a spectacular performance," said McCarthy, no relation to the former standout Delaware jockey who is now a trainer. "Edgar did a super job of keeping her tucked in a pocket, then he wheeled her out on the far turn and let her run."

Prado said the grass course, pelted by heavy rain earlier in the day and again just prior to the Dick, was soft but not chewed up. "She handled it pretty well," Prado said.

"I was just biding my time until I was able put her in the clear when I wanted her to make her run."

Honey Ryder covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:08.13.

Sweet Science finished second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Natalie Beach. The loss by Sweet Science marked the end of trainer H. Graham Motion's three-year winning streak in the Dick.

Royal Assault takes Carpenter

Royal Assault ($5.20), ridden by Rafael Bejarano for trainer Nick Zito, rallied down the middle of the track to score a one-length victory in the $100,300 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Handicap.

The 4-year-old Royal Assault, third in last year's Belmont Stakes and elevated to third on a disqualification in last month's Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap, had only two horses beaten after the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile Carpenter. Bejarano swung Royal Assault four wide coming into the stretch and despite drifting out a bit nearing the wire, Royal Assault was able to surge past Trapped Again and Super Frolic to win for the fourth time in 16 starts. Royal Assault covered the distance in 1:43.53 over a sloppy main track.

Trapped Again hung on for second by a neck, despite being bumped into the rail during a stretch-long battle with Super Frolic.

Cherokee's Boy, the morning-line favorite, was one of two scratches, reducing the field to six older horses.