04/06/2002 12:00AM

National Park just gets up in Turf Challenge


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Southern California invader National Park seemed to outclass the field in Saturday's $100,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge at Lone Star Park. But the 9-10 favorite in the field of 11 3-year-olds had to summon all his reserves to rally in the closing strides for a three-quarter-length victory.

Trained by Bob Hess for the Fog City Stable, National Park ($3.80) covered a mile on a turf course labeled "good" in 1:41.17.

National Park, seventh in the early going, saved ground before swinging out for racing room nearing the stretch. He gradually picked up momentum and ran down the leaders under Corey Lanerie, who recorded his second win on the card.

Victory Dawn edged Dazzlinpersonality and Kamolia in a tight three-horse photo for second. Paloma Parilla, the second choice on the morning line, was scratched due to wet course.

o Jockey Gerard Melancon was fortunate to avoid serious injury in the sixth race, when he fell from his mount, Justa Quick Silver, in midstretch. Justa Quick Silver ducked to the inside and attempted to hurdle the temporary inside rail, and Melancon fell headfirst into the turf. Melancon shook off the fall to the applause of the crowd, and rode his remaining mounts on the card.