03/13/2004 12:00AM

A Kruljac exacta in Gold Cup

Shawn Coady/Coady Photography
Iron Halo wins the $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise on Saturday.

PHOENIX - Trainer Eric Kruljac sent out the one-two finishers in Saturday's $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise as Iron Halo defeated R. Baggio by two and a quarter lengths.

"The horse did all the work," said Kruljac, referring to Iron Halo.

Ridden by Joel Campbell, Iron Halo ($20.40) rallied from fifth position in the seven-horse field while covering the six furlongs in 1:08.48.

"He just exploded when I asked him," said Campbell.

Taiaslew, the 3-2 favorite, finished third, a half-length behind R. Baggio and four lengths in front of Grimm, who is also trained by Kruljac. Giovannetti, who won the Gold Cup a year ago, tired to finish fifth.

Iron Halo was purchased by Kruljac on behalf of local attorney Steve Mitchell for $130,000 in Argentina in 2002. The Gold Cup was Iron Halo's first win in four U.S. starts.

"Eric and I have been friends for seven years and I totally trust his knowledge of horses," said Mitchell, who's been an owner for only a year and a half. "He went to Argentina to buy two horses for me and Iron Halo was one."