02/26/2007 1:00AM

Jambalaya in last jump

Eleanor Gustafson/Horsephotos
Jambalaya and Javier Castellano fly past defending champ Einstein to win the Gulfstream Park BC.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A year ago, Einstein gave Helen Pitts the first Grade 1 victory of her training career by winning the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap. On Saturday, Jambalaya did the same for his trainer, Catherine Day Phillips, after outfinishing Honey Ryder and defending champion Einstein to win the 1 3/8-mile Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup.

The Gulfstream Park BC was the second graded stakes victory for Jambalaya, who won the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga in September 2005.

"Winning a stakes race at Saratoga was very special to me, but I'd guess I'd have to say winning a Grade 1 race here has to be the highlight of my career so far," said Phillips, who is based for most of the year at Woodbine but is stabling this winter in Ocala.

Jambalaya was allowed to settle four lengths off the pace of Fri Guy while saving ground under jockey Javier Castellano. Jambalaya had to steady along waiting for racing room behind the tiring leaders entering the stretch. He angled outside and finished full of run to catch 2-1 favorite Honey Ryder in the final strides and post a neck decision. Honey Ryder, the only female in the field, also saved ground while in some tight quarters racing behind Jambalaya for the opening mile, came on strong between horses at midstretch, and gained a short advantage between calls approaching the wire.

Einstein, who led throughout to win the 2006 Gulfstream Park BC, joined the leaders at midstretch after racing wide the entire trip. He finished another half-length behind Honey Ryder in third.

Jambalaya, a gelded son of Langfuhr, covered the distance in 2:21.28 over a firm course and returned $16.20.

Said Day Phillips, "We won the Saranac by a nose and lost to Better Talk Now by a nose" in the Grade 2 Sky Classic at Woodbine, "but it was our nose today."

Phillips, who purchased Jambalaya along with her husband, Todd Phillips, for the Kingfield Racing Stable for $2,500 at the 2003 Keeneland September sale, said she planned on bringing Jambalaya back for the Grade 3 Pan American Handicap here on March 29.

"Our original plan was to come here for all three races in the series," said Phillips. "I'll take him back to the farm in Ocala and in all likelihood return for the Pan Am."