03/31/2008 11:00PM

Hostess wins Orchid Handicap

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer H. James Bond picked a good time to win his first race of the meet, sending out Hostess to a 1 1/4-length victory over 9-5 favorite Mauralakana in Sunday's $150,000 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Hostess, a 5-year-old daughter of Chester House, rallied from last after the opening mile of the 1 1/2-mile Orchid. With John Velazquez sitting patiently until nearing the stretch, Hostess slipped along the hedge and with a late burst of speed overtook Mauralakana in the final sixteenth of a mile to win going clear.

Mauralkana angled three wide to commence her rally leaving the final turn, gained a short advantage from the tiring Eclisse in early stretch, and proved no match for the winner. Heboriste rallied mildly to finish three lengths farther back in third.

The win was the first in graded stakes company for Hostess, who covered the distance in 2:25.83 over a firm course and paid $12.80. She had finished seventh behind Mauralkana in the 1 1/8-mile the Very One Handicap in her only previous start this year.

"When they shortened the Very One to a mile and one eighth it was too short for her," said Bond, who had started only nine horses all meet prior to the Grade 3 Orchird.

"She's a good 1 1/2 mile type filly and hopefully this victory will be a good break through for her."

Bond said he might consider the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park for Hostess's next start. Hostess finished third behind Honey Ryder in the 2007 Sheepshead Bay.