09/21/2003 11:00PM

Maiden wins Half Moon Bay Handicap

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Blue Blood Boot ($10.60), a maiden making only his third start, overpowered his rivals in the lane to win the $68,550 Half Moon Bay Handicap at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

Blue Blood Boot relaxed nicely behind Obermeister and Standard Setter, who engaged in a pace duel before Standard Setter took a bad step near the half-mile pole and was eased.

Blue Blood Boot moved up on Obermeister and pulled away in the lane to win the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds by 2 1/2 lengths over late-running Winning Stripes, who was a neck in front of At Dawn. The winning time was 1:43.25.

Winning jockey Ron Warren Jr. was originally scheduled to ride morning-line favorite Stanley Park, who was scratched.

"I showed up this morning, and they told me my horse had been scratched, but I was still riding," Warren said. "I don't think that other horse could have beat him he was so strong. He was a little green in the lane but won under a pull.

"Terry (Knight, the winning trainer) thought he might be a little tough early, but once he got back behind horses, he settled down."

Blue Blood Boot showed little in a July 27 debut at Del Mar but was second, losing by a head after setting the pace in his second start.

"He'd always shown talent," Knight said. "I had trouble getting him in a maiden race at Del Mar. I was stuck in a predicament. There was a maiden race up here, but it didn't fall into synch with his training when a race didn't fill the last week at Del Mar.

"I thought he had potential, and, when I saw the past performances, I thought he'd be right where he was throughout this race."

Blue Blood Boot, and Everest Stables homebred, earned $33,450 for his maiden victory, lifting his career total to $43,650.