03/23/2002 12:00AM

'Irving' delights in odd Pan Am


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Deeliteful Irving rallied from off a blistering early pace then withstood 3-2 favorite Cetewayo for a two-length victory in Saturday's $200,000, Grade 2 at Gulfstream Park.

All prerace strategy went out the window once Backatitagain set fractions of 23.94 seconds, 46.93, 1:10.25, and 1:35 through the opening mile of the 1 1/2-mile Pan Am, opening up as much as a 10-length lead in the process. Jockey Chris DeCarlo kept Deeliteful Irving about 15 lengths off the pace before commencing his bid after a mile. Deeliteful Irving readily collared the tiring leader approaching the quarter pole, quickly opened a clear lead, then held safe Cetewayo through the stretch.

Mr. Livingston rallied belatedly to finish third; Monkey Puzzle was fourth. Whata Brainstorm, the defending Pan Am champ, was a late scratch, as was Craigsteel.

Deeliteful Irving paid $16 and his final time of 2:24.14 was just a second off the track and stakes record set by Unite's Big Red.

"He got first run over Cetewayo, which at the time I wasn't sure was a good thing," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Deeliteful Irving for the Anstu Stables. "It was an oddly run race but it worked out well for us. He's now won at distances from a mile to a mile and one half, which leaves us with a lot of options."

Trainer Michael Dickinson was pleased with Cetewayo's performance, even in defeat. "We gave the winner six pounds," said Dickinson, "which is really quite a lot going a mile and one half, especially with fast fractions like that."

Dickinson said Keeneland's Elkhorn Stakes on April 24 would be next for Cetewayo, who won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in his previous start.

Macho Uno wins by a half-length in return

Macho Uno, making his first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, rallied from off the pace to post a half-length victory over Hail the Chief in Saturday's $46,000 co-feature. The allowance race was run at one mile and 70 yards.

"I was very pleased with his effort," said Joe Orseno who trains Macho Uno for the Stronach Stable. "He's grown and developed so much more now."

Orseno said he will fly Macho Uno to New York on April 2. His first main goal will be the Metropolitan Handicap on

May 27. "I might run him once before the Met Mile in the Westchester," said Orseno. "We're mapping out a New York campaign for him with five or six races before the Breeders' Cup."

* Repent, working for the first time since his victory in the Louisiana Derby on March 10, breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:00 here Saturday. He will make his next start April 6 in the Illinois Derby. His stablemate Take Charge Lady, an easy winner of both her starts this season, earned the bullet on Saturday's tab working five furlongs in 58.60 seconds. She will run next in Keeneland's Ashland Stakes on April 6.

* Jockey Joe Bravo made a triumphant return, guiding Scagnelli to victory in Saturday's finale. It was the first mount Bravo accepted since breaking his leg last summer at Monmouth Park.