01/01/2005 1:00AM

Lord Robyn rules start to end

Skip Smith
Lord Robyn grabbed the early lead under Eibar Coa and never gave it up, winning the Tropical Park Derby Saturday by 4 /12 lengths.

MIAMI - Lord Robyn was allowed to get loose on an easy lead in Saturday's $100,000 and then never looked back, coasting home a 4 1/2-length winner over Fire Path in Calder's traditional New Year's Day turf feature.

The Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby, the first graded stakes of the new year in the U.S., was the highlight of Saturday's Grand Slam III program at Calder.

Aided by the late scratch of Magna Graduate and Elusive Thunder's failure to show any of his customary early speed, Lord Robyn quickly gained a clear advantage under jockey Eibar Coa over a drying-out turf course officially listed as "good" following overnight rains. Lord Robyn was able to increase his advantage after setting lively fractions of 24.08 seconds, 47.80, and 1:10.60 - and maintained a safe advantage under steady urging through the stretch.

Fire Path moved into second position after saving ground around the second turn but could not gain on the winner late. He finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of Crown Point, who was third in a full field of 12 3-year-olds.

Exceptional Ride, the 2-1 favorite, reached contention four wide around the second turn but could not sustain his bid and finished ninth, while Medigating, the 5-2 second choice, was a tiring fifth while making his U.S. debut for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

The victory was the third in a row for Lord Robyn since being moved to the grass by trainer David Fawkes in mid-November. A son of Robyn Dancer, Lord Robyn was purchased privately by the partnership of Top Line Racing Stable and Alex and Joanne Lieblong after winning his maiden under a $25,000 claiming tag in his second career start on June 25.

Lord Robyn ran the Tropical Park Derby's 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.18 and paid $17.60.

"Obviously, he loves the turf and that will be his future at least for now," Fawkes said. "We'll look at those 3-year-old turf stakes at Gulfstream next."