02/04/2006 12:00AM

Keyed Entry outguns 'Samurai'

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Matt Dean/EQUI-PHOTO
Making his stakes debut, Keyed Entry (right), under John Velazquez, outfinishes First Samurai to win Saturday's Hutcheson Stakes in track-record time.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - First Samurai ran faster than the track record for 7 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Trouble was, Keyed Entry ran faster.

Keyed Entry, who was making his first start in a stakes race, bravely turned back the heavily favored First Samurai in the Grade 2, $150,000 while skipping through the sloppy surface in track-record time. He won by 1 1/4 lengths, with First Samurai 16 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Express News.

Keyed Entry ($7.40), starting from the rail, did not break as sharply as First Samurai, but quickly rushed up to grab the lead under jockey John Velazquez. First Samurai sat second, stalking him from the outside, and then those two steadily drew away from the field.

They were even turning into the stretch, but Keyed Entry never relinquished the lead. After setting fractions of 22.19 seconds for the opening quarter, 44.10 seconds for a half-mile, and a blazing 1:07.61 for six furlongs, Keyed Entry stopped the timer in 1:27.12. The old record of 1:28.42 was set last year by Value Plus, who, like Keyed Entry, is trained by Todd Pletcher.

"The race set up like we hoped, and then it was a matter of whether he was good enough," Pletcher said. "He answered the class test."

Keyed Entry, 3, is a son of Honour and Glory who has now won all three of his starts. He was a maiden winner last summer at Monmouth Park, then returned from a six-month layoff to win a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 7. Pletcher trains Keyed Entry for a partnership headed by the Starlight Stable of Jack and Laurie Wolf.

First Samurai was the 3-5 favorite for his first start of the year. He had won 4 times in 5 starts last year, his lone loss coming when he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He popped the gate, then tracked Keyed Entry down the backstretch and to the far turn, but he was simply second best on this day.

"I thought he ran well," said Frank Brothers, who trains First Samurai. "It's a fast horse that won. Can't take nothing away from him. I thought my horse ran well off the bench, first time in three months. I trained him like I wanted to, and I thought I had him tight enough."

Brothers said the off track did not hinder First Samurai, who had to concede six pounds (122-116) to Keyed Entry.

Both Pletcher and Brothers said they would seek a two-turn race for their colts next time out.

"He will stretch out next, but I don't know if it'll be the Fountain of Youth," Pletcher said, referring to the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth here on March 4.

"I'd imagine he'd get another start here, but it's not etched in stone," Brothers said.