05/05/2007 12:00AM

Molengao takes another step forward


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Molengao won his second Grade 2 stakes of 2007 in Saturday's $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, a victory that left him on the list of leading contenders for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Molengao ($4.60) rallied wide on the final turn before pulling away under a hand-ride to win by 4 1/2 lengths, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.86. The LeRoy was Molengao's first start since a second-place finish in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. He won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap in February.

Molengao’s pre-race preparation was not without a minor hiccup. He needed a hind shoe repaired while warming up on the backstretch.

Porto Santo, making his synthetic track debut, finished second, a nose in front of Buzzards Bay, who was starting for the first time since finishing fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap last June.

Molengao, trained by Paulo Lobo, has won 5 of 15 starts and $588,477 for TNT Stud.