09/20/2003 12:00AM

Ihla Grande scores upset in Hillsborough

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Ihla Grande ($45) unleashed a strong late kick, catching favored Lindsay Jean near the wire as she won the $60,950 Hillsborough Handicap by a head at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

"I did what the boss said," winning jockey Francisco Duran said of a morning phone call with trainer Paulo Lobo. "He said to save as much ground as I could."

Lindsay Jean looked as if she would win her second straight stakes over the Longden Turf Course as she sat in fourth behind a quick, contested pace involving Marty's Zee, A B Noodle and Pheiffer.

Ihla Grande was far back early, saving ground. As the leaders began to fade on the second turn she swung four wide into the clear, following Lindsay Jean, who got first run. She beat Lindsay Jean by a head, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.15.

Milligram made a strong rally along the rail to be third another three-quarters of a length back.

"Maybe I pushed the button a little too early, but, really, she just dragged me to the lead," Lindsay Jean's jockey Chad Schvaneveldt said. "She dug in when that other filly came to her. She gave me what she's got."

Ihla Grande is undefeated in three starts on the turf here. She is 3-for-8 in her career. She earned $33,950 to lift her career earnings to $70,620.

"I believe she likes this turf better than the turf down south," said Duran.