06/01/2002 11:00PM

Kona Gold wins Los Angeles Handicap


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Kona Gold won for the first time in more than 10 months in Sunday's $107,500 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park, a performance that resembled the form that earned him the 2000 Eclipse Award as the nation's champion sprinter.

Making his first start since November, the 8-year-old Kona Gold won his 10th career stakes in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap. Kona Gold ($3.60) finished six furlongs in 1:08.72.

Benefiting from a perfect trip under jockey Alex Solis, Kona Gold stalked pacesetters Hombre Rapido and No Armistice, who set wicked fractions of 21.49 and 43.64 seconds for the first half-mile.

"He broke very sharp," Solis said. "I saw those horses going head and head and I sat on him."

Solis rated Kona Gold in fourth on the backstretch, about five lengths off the pace. On the turn, Kona Gold moved into third with a rally that caught the leaders in early stretch. Kona Gold extended his lead from a half-length in midstretch to 1 1-4 lengths at the finish with Solis guiding him home under a hand-ride.

"At the five-sixteenths pole, I asked him," Solis said. "I had a good position the whole way and I wasn't concerned."

No Armistice finished second, a neck in front of Komax, who rallied from last in the field of six. Radiata finished fourth, followed by Rapidough and Hombre Rapido.

Kona Gold has won 13 of 24 starts and $2,133,864. Owned by Andrew and Irwin Molasky and trainer Bruce Headley, Kona Gold had not won in three starts dating back to the Grade 2 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar last July.

*Magic Smoke on Sunday pulled an upset in the $98,775 Cinderella Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, catching an unlucky Little Bit a Swiss in the final sixteenth.

Global Finance, the even-money favorite, was pulled up in the stretch and finished last. She was believed to have bled, trainer Jerry Dutton said.

Magic Smoke ran 5 1-2 furlongs in 1:04.60, finishing 1 1-4 lengths in front of Little Bit a Swiss, who was stuck on the rail on the turn, came out in the stretch and led briefly before being caught.

My Honey Bunny finished third in the field of 10.

Magic Smoke is owned by a partnership and trained by Sandy Shulman. She will be pointed for the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes over six furlongs on July 4, Shulman said.