08/01/2003 11:00PM

Laurel: French Charmer rallies


French Charmer ($12.40) overtook even-money favorite Rock Slide in deep stretch and pulled away for a one-length victory in the $144,500 John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Laurel Park.

Rock Slide held a 2 1/2-length lead with a furlong remaining in the 1 1/8-mile race, run over soft turf, but French Charmer, under Chris DeCarlo, closed between horses and drew clear. The winning time was 1:55.56.

It was the fifth win in the last six starts for French Charmer, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Harry Benson. French Charmer finished fifth in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap at Gulfstream in his only previous stakes try.

"He should have won. He got in a load of trouble in that race," Benson said. "We had a lot of confidence in him. That's why we brought him up here. I had him entered in [Sunday's] race at Monmouth but that's only $75,000 and this is $150,000," he said.