10/06/2006 11:00PM

Lava Man remains perfect on year

Lava Man with Corey Nakatani up wins the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Lava Man will go to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs next month with a perfect record in 2006.

The 5-year-old gelding, claimed for $50,000 in August 2004, ran his winning streak to seven with a convincing win in Saturday's $500,000 at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Lava Man led throughout, winning by 2 1/4 lengths over Brother Derek, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April and the fourth-place finisher of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Giacomo, the winner of the 2005 Kentucky Derby, closed from last to finish third in the field of seven.

Lava Man ($3.20) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.15.

Typical of the form that he has shown throughout the year, Lava Man raced near the front throughout the Grade 2 Goodwood.

Breaking from post 4, Lava Man gained the rail on the first turn and led by a head over Preachinatthebar through early fractions of 23.29 and 46.90 seconds. Brother Derek got within a length of Lava Man, while racing on the outside of Preachinatthebar, but neither of them could give Lava Man a fuss in the final half-mile.

Lava Man pulled clear of Brother Derek on the final turn and had a three-length lead entering the stretch. Under right-handed urging, he maintained a clear advantage through the stretch.

Brother Derek ran well through the stretch to finish second, a length in front of Giacomo, who never threatened the winner.

Lava Man was greeted in the winner's circle by his owners, the Kenly family and Jason Wood, and dozens of their friends. As Nakatani walked Lava Man into the winner's circle, a member of the crowd shouted, "Breeders' Cup, baby."

Trained by Doug O'Neill, Lava Man, 5, has won 14 of 34 starts and $3,804,706. Earlier this year, Lava Man became the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic at Del Mar in the same year. He also won the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on turf in June.