07/05/2003 12:00AM

Joey Franco captures Triple Bend BC Invitational


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Joey Franco was unbeatable at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting this year.

After winning the Tiznow Stakes against California-breds on April 26 and the Ack Ack Handicap against open company on May 31, Joey Franco on Saturday won the most important race of his career in the $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap.

To complete the unique triple in the Grade 1 Triple Bend, Joey Franco ($7) had to hold off a late run from Publication and survive an objection from that colt's jockey, Kent Desormeaux. The stewards dismissed a claim of foul by Desormeaux that Joey Franco had drifted out in the stretch.

Joey Franco won by head, finishing seven furlongs in 1:21.56. He was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, who won five races from nine mounts on Saturday.

Bluesthestandard finished third in the field of nine, but was disqualified and placed sixth for interfering with 2-1 favorite Avanzado in midstretch. The disqualification resulted in the promotion of Primerica from fourth to third.

Joey Franco was always close pacesetter Avanzado, who set fractions of 21.97 and 44.40 seconds. Joey Franco rallied wide on the turn and led by a length after six furlongs in 1:08.58. Publication closed from eighth to just miss, the third time he has placed in a stakes at this meeting.

Joey Franco has won 7 of 14 starts and $551,091 for owner Jerry Frankel. A 4-year-old, Joey Franco is trained by Darrell Vienna, who won the 2002 Triple Bend with Disturbingthepeace.