10/22/2005 12:00AM

McDynamo wins third BC 'Chase

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FAR HILLS, N.J. - Sanna Hendriks never lost faith in McDynamo, even when the line of doubters grew long and deep. Many felt that the 8-year-old gelding, mired in a five-race losing streak, had lost a step.

On a dreary, rainy day at Far Hills Races, McDynamo redeemed himself and justified his trainer's confidence with a resounding nine-length victory for a record third straight triumph in the Grade 1, $200,000 .

"We had a little bit of a rough season, and he's been beaten a few times this year, but I always felt he had an excuse," Hendriks said. "I hadn't given up hope. I felt he was the same horse he's been."

McDynamo became the first horse to win the race three times. The victory also lifted him back into the hunt for an Eclipse Award, while Hendriks equaled trainer Jonathan Sheppard's record of three victories in the race.

McDynamo is undoubtedly a horse for the Far Hills course: He is unbeaten in five races here in central New Jersey.

McDynamo, ridden by stable jockey Jody Petty for the first time, shot right to the front on the soft course and led through all 14 jumps.

"He realized we were racing and not schooling," Petty said. "He took the bridle and he did his job."

McDynamo ran the 2 5/8 miles in 5:46.65, beating Three Carat in second. The time was well off the course record of 4:53.80 set by All Gong in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase.

Hirapour, the division leader heading into the race by virtue of two Grade 1 wins, was a tiring third.

Understood finished fourth, followed by Mon Villez in the five-horse field, the smallest in the 14-year history of the race.

The defection of Preemptive Strike on Friday due to a foot abscess changed the tactical flow of the race. Preemptive Strike is a bold front-runner who would have undoubtedly set the pace.

With the scratch, someone had to take charge, and that role fell to McDynamo.

"The horse loves being on the front end," Hendriks said. "I felt a couple of times this year we didn't take advantage of his gallop."

He rocketed to the lead and was never threatened. Hirapour, ridden by Matt McCarron, tried to keep pace.

"He absolutely hated the ground," McCarron said. "He struggled every step of the way. McDynamo thrives on this kind of going. My horse tried his best, but he was just legless and exhausted."

There is no wagering at Far Hills, and the poor weather held the crowd for the annual one-day meet to an estimated 25,000.