07/14/2006 11:00PM

Me My Mine captures Claiming Crown Jewel

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Me My Mine held off heavily favored Sinners N Saints by a head in the by a nose.

On a brutally hot evening, but with a lively crowd of 11,644 on hand, Al's Dearly Bred won the Emerald for the second time, but with an amazing five-year gap between victories. Now 9, Al's Dearly Bred missed more than a year of racing, made it back June 11, and promptly was claimed out of a narrow comeback win by trainer Marvin Johnson.

"We took a chance, and it worked out," said Johnson amidst a raucous winner's circle.

Al's Dearly Bred was last at the top of the stretch, but in the $150,000 Jewel, Me My Mine and jockey Roberto Gonzalez did all their work on the front end. In the six-horse Jewel, Me My Mine was sent directly to the lead, and on a track that had carried speed horses throughout the night, he completely controlled the early pace, going his opening quarter-mile in just more than 24 seconds.

"When we saw the 24 for the first quarter, we were pretty happy," said trainer John Martin, credited owner Rick Englander with this win. It was Englander, Martin said, who targeted Me My Mine for a $40,000 claim in his most recent start, a June 8 turf race at Bay Meadows.

"He wanted a horse to bring back here, and he got the right one," Martin said.

Me My Mine ($8) grew weary in the final 100 yards, and Sinners N Saints was coming at him. Bejarano, who flew here after riding late Saturday afternoon in the Virginia Derby, angled out for a late run, but fell just short. Sandburr, trapped inside much of the way, finished third.

In the Emerald, Al's Dearly Bred ($9.40) looked to an outside viewer like a beaten horse partway around the far turn, but jockey Derek Bell had a different angle.

"When I turned for home, I knew he was a winner," Bell said.

Bell said he wanted Al's Dearly Bred to get closer to the pace during the backstretch run. "I asked him a little and he said huh-uh," said Bell. But when Al's Dearly Bred got outside and in the clear, he flew home, just catching a tough-luck Nooligan in the final jump, with Bodgiteer third.

Lake Breaks Through

Scott Lake, the leading trainer in Claiming Crown history, wasted little time breaking a three-year drought, winning the first two Claiming Crown races Saturday, the Iron Horse with Distinct Vision, and the Glass Slipper with Funny Woman.

Both were impressive, but Distinct Vision merits further note for his ongoing eight-race winning streak, a streak that began Feb. 9 in a $7,500 claimer, and has spanned five different racetracks. Owned by Carl Moore Management, Distinct Vision has taken 18 of 44 career starts, and has dominated starter-allowance races since he was made eligible with that $7,500 claiming win. Saturday, he won like he usually does, seizing the early lead, controlling the pace, and running alone through the stretch.

"He's a pleasure to train," said Lake. "You gallop him a mile a day, let him play around, and he's happy as can be."

Distinct Vision ($2.60) beat late-running Wheaty by four and three-quarters lengths, with Harry Got Happy third. The winner ran one and one-sixteenth miles in 1:44.66.

Funny Woman ($3.40) won just as easily, scoring by three and one-half lengths over late-running Da Svedonya, her main rival.

Crafty Schemer Sizzles

Favored Crafty Schemer was one of three horses who looked like major contenders in the

Rapid Transit, but left no doubt who was much the best on the night, winning by two and one-half lengths over longshot Seneca Summer, while coming within about three lengths of the six-furlong track record. Crafty Schemer, who ran his main rivals off their feet with a display of early speed, was timed in 1:08.74 for six furlongs after racing an opening quarter-mile in 21.33 seconds and a half in 43.25. Crafty Schemer ($4.20), is trained by Benny Feliciano and owned by Toby Roth, connections who claimed him for $16,000 last October.

Locals Make Good

Two long-priced locals scored Claiming Crown upsets, with Tens Holy Spirit ($28.20) home by a half-length in the Tiara, and Castello d'Oro ($71.80) best by a half-length in the Express. Strong Faith, the 6-5 favorite in the Tiara, a one and one-sixteenth mile turf race, finished last of 10.