10/17/2003 11:00PM

McDynamo by 15 in BC Chase

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FAR HILLS, N.J. - McDynamo gave strong claim to an Eclipse Award with a dominant victory Saturday afternoon in the Grade 1, $175,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase.

A rising star on the jump circuit, McDynamo romped to 15 1/4-length win over Pelagos before more than 50,000 fans at Moorland Farms in the heart of New Jersey's horse country.

McDynamo, a relative youngster at 6, is unbeaten in two hurdles this year, having also won the Grade 1 Royal Chase at Keeneland by 7 1/2 lengths in April.

As good as he was at Keeneland, McDynamo was even more impressive in his latest effort over his favorite course. He has run three times at Far Hills and has won easily every time.

"I think it's a stamina-type course and that suits him," said jockey Craig Thornton, who flew in from New Zealand for the mount. "He's got a lovely gallop. He trains on hill and I think he's well-suited to the course."

Thornton faced a thorny tactical decision. He had McDynamo rating second behind a slow pace set by Indispensable. It was an uncomfortable spot in a tightly bunched pack.

Thornton opted to send McDynamo to the front down the backstretch the second time in the 14-fence, 2 5/8-mile race.

"The race did not set up ideally," Thornton said. "It was a paceless race."

Early moves are often losing moves in steeplechase races, but McDynamo was equal to the task. The gelding did not miss a beat as he held a comfortable lead rounding the final turn where the track dips before rising to meet the final fence, the infamous "Heartbreak Hill" at Far Hills.

There was no heartbreak, only joy, as McDynamo cleared the final obstacle and was all alone for the run to the finish wire.

"We like to say he's maturing but he still races keenly," Thornton said. "He was going keener that I would have liked. I tried to relax him as best I could and I guess it was enough because he had something left."

McDynamo's final time was 5:24.30. Mulahen finished third in the field of seven.

The major question now centers on whether McDynamo races again this year or goes on to Camden, S.C., for the Colonial Cup on Nov. 16.

"The logical thing to do is take him to the Colonial Cup," said trainer Sanna Hendriks. "You don't get too many opportunities with a horse like this.

"You can put him away and have a lock on the Eclipse Award or take a chance and run in the Colonial Cup."