08/14/2004 12:00AM

Kicken Kris wins on DQ

Kicken Kris (left) is moved from second to first as Powerscourt is disqualified from first to fourth in the Arlington Million on Saturday at Arlington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - At least nobody got hurt this time.

But for the second straight year, the fireworks exploded at the finish of the , as Powerscourt was disqualified from first to fourth for interfering with Kicken Kris and Epalo in the final 150 yards. Kicken Kris, who was pushed into the rail, was moved up from second to first, while Magistretti went from third to second, Epalo from fourth to third.

Last year, Storming Home was taken down from first to fourth for swerving sharply outward at the finish line, throwing Gary Stevens, who was badly injured. Powerscourt went the other direction.

Ridden by the young Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, Powerscourt came flying into the stretch after making a wide run on the far turn, but he steadily drifted in even as he gained the lead. At about the sixteenth pole, Powerscourt cut in front of a tiring Epalo, whose jockey, Andrasch Starke, checked, and also veered in. Kicken Kris and Kent Desormeaux, trying to come up the fence, got the worst of things, bumping sharply into the rail. But Kicken Kris righted himself, running on for second, 1 1/2 lengths behind Powerscourt.

"I was going to win really, really easy," Desormeaux said. "I hadn't even gone to showering down on him because I knew I had the leaders caught."

Spencer, unsurprisingly, had a different perspective. Speaking in hushed tones to the Arlington stewards, Spencer seemed disconsolate. Afterward, he said he felt his actions had not affected the race's outcome.

"Obviously, he won easily," Spencer said.

Kicken Kris paid $21.40 to win. Powerscourt ran the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.08.

The win gave Kicken Kris a rare double, with wins in the Secretariat and the Million in consecutive years.

Desormeaux picked up the mount on Kicken Kris just this week, when Edgar Prado opted for Magistretti. And it was only recently that Kicken Kris showed form worthy of a Million winner. Kicken Kris began his year with three losses, and he was badly beaten in the Turf Classic and Manhattan handicaps before rebounding with a comfortable win in the July 17 Bowling Green.

"After those two races he had, I was starting to doubt myself," said Michael Matz, who trains Kicken Kris for the Brushwood Stable of Elizabeth Moran.

The Million pace was quick, as Vespone shot out to the lead, pursued by Sabiango and Epalo. Kicken Kris raced in fifth or sixth, Powerscourt in 10th through an opening quarter-mile in 23.75 seconds, a half in 47.49, and three-quarters in 1:12.04. Epalo was the lone pace horse to survive, but he was tiring, as Desormeaux, who had stayed inside on the turn, swung into action on Kicken Kris.

That was when things got ugly, and we will never really know whether Kicken Kris would have caught Powerscourt had the race been run on the square.