11/17/2007 12:00AM

Hunting steps up in Stuyvesant

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Coming off a second-level allowance win and meeting stakes company for the first time in his 11-race career, Hunting rallied from next to last under Alan Garcia to catch 2-1 favorite Utopia and win Saturday's Grade 3, $108,500 Stuyvesant Handicap by a length.

Evening Attire, the 2005 Stuyvesant winner, rallied from last to finish third. Who What Win, Awfully Smart, and Barcola completed the order of finish in the field of six older males.

Hunting ($21), the lightweight at 113 pounds and longest price on the toteboard, saved ground well off the early pace as Barcola set fractions of 24.05, 47.59 and 1:10.95. Hunting angled out in the stretch and overtook Utopia to win going away. Utopia gained a short lead in midstretch after a mile in 1:35.54, but wasn't able to withstand the winner's late charge.

"We had a good trip and I knew I had a lot of horse coming to the top of the stretch," said Garcia. "He kicked hard when I asked him and he ran good."

Hunting, a 4-year-old homebred gelding trained by Shug McGaughey, ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.08 on a fast main track, and earned $65,100 for owner-breeder Stuart Janney III.

"His last race was a good race," said McGaughey, who also won Saturday's Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs with the Janney homebred Criminologist. "I looked around in the condition book and didn't really see anything for him. I think the secret to him is to just let him drop back; they went slow the first quarter, but they picked it up from there. I think he beat a pretty nice horse in Utopia, so I'm pretty pleased with his progression."

McGaughey said Hunting might return in the Queens County at Aqueduct Dec. 8.

* Jockey Raul Rojas was unseated from Bully for Us when the 2-year-old maiden fell in the stretch of race 6. Rojas was taken to North Shore University Hospital with pain in his back and left leg.