07/26/2003 11:00PM

Megahertz rallies to take Mabee

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Megahertz scored her first win in a Grade 1 in Saturday's $400,000 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar, outrunning Tates Creek, Dublino and Golden Apples who finished in a three-way dead-heat for second.

Making her fourth start in a Grade 1, Megahertz ($18.40) rallied wide under jockey Alex Solis to reach the front in the final strides.

Megahertz, 4, finished a half-length in front of the trio after 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.09. Voz de Colegiala, who led until early stretch, finished last of five.

Solis had Megahertz closer to the pace than her typical style. For the first six furlongs, Megahertz was last, but only three lengths behind Voz de Colegiala who set a slow pace of 25.15 and 50.20 seconds.

Tates Creek, the even-money favorite, passed Voz de Colegiala in early stretch and was challenged in the final furlong by Golden Apples and Dublino. But it was a wide rally from Megahertz that prevailed.

Owned by Michael Bello and trained by Bobby Frankel, Megahertz has won 8 of 21 starts and $1,127,326.

Golden Apples, the 2002 Eclipse Award champion as outstanding turf female, was making her first start of the year. Ridden by Gary Stevens, Golden Apples was within 1 1/2 lengths of Tates Creek in early stretch, but never reached the front.

"It wasn't a truly run race," trainer Ben Cecil said. "Gary said she was aggressive early on and that probably took something out of her finish."

The stewards needed eight minutes to announce the order of finish. In a photo finish image shown to the public, Solis's body obscured Golden Apple's head, but showed that Dublino and Tates Creek were even. The stewards said they had no choice but to place Golden Apples even with Dublino and Tates Creek.

"We can't definitively say where the horse's nose is," steward Dave Samuel said of Golden Apples.