02/12/2005 12:00AM

No record this time, but Mr. Light still wins

Mr. Light, under Cornelio Velasquez, scores a half-length victory over Host in the Grade 3 Appleton Handicap at Gulfstream. He paid $14.80.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Mr. Light didn't come close to equaling the one-mile world record he set earlier in the meet. But he still covered the distance fast enough to register a half-length victory over Host in Saturday's $100,000 at Gulfstream Park.

Mr. Light established a world mark of 1:31.41 winning a third-level allowance race on turf opening day. His final time in the Grade 3 Appleton was 1:32.98. Despite coming off a record-setting performance five weeks earlier, Mr. Light was sent off the fifth choice in a field of eight and returned $14.80.

Mr. Light received a perfect trip under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, saving ground while racing within easy striking distance of Host and Gulch Approval, who contested the early pace. Host eventually drew clear at midstretch but could not contain Mr. Light, who finished full of run after angling four wide leaving the final bend to catch the game leader in the final 30 yards.

Millennium Dragon, the defending Appleton champion and 2-1 favorite, raced well-placed just in front of Mr. Light to the stretch but lacked a solid closing response when set down by jockey Richard Migliore. He finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Host. Gulch Approval, Settle Up, Quest, Freefourinternet, and Spruce Run completed the order of finish.

"This horse loves the turf as hard as possible," said Angel Penna, who trains Mr. Light for Earle Mack. "If he could run on I-95 he could run a mile and a quarter. He's the type of horse who on any given day can run a great race. He just needs the right conditions."

Penna said Mr. Light would make his next start in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap here on March 6.

Suwannee River: Snowdrops gets perfect trip

Snowdrops used stalking tactics from along the hedge to run down the pacesetting Angela's Love and capture the co-featured Grade 3, $100,000 for fillies and mares.

Snowdrops ($9.40) was forced to steady several times from tight quarters when beaten three lengths by Angela's Love when the pair met in the Marshua's River Stakes four weeks ago. But Snowdrops did not have a straw in her path in Saturday's rematch, saving ground to the stretch before easing out and catching the leader near the wire.

As expected, Angela's Love controlled the pace while stalked by Binya, disposed of that rival on the second turn, settled into the stretch with a clear lead but could not quite last. High Court rallied to finish third, and was followed by Honey Ryder, Galloping Gal, Binya, Savedbythelight, Krasnaya, Banyu Dewi, and Key to the Cat.

Snowdrops covered 1 1/16 miles on the firm course in 1:46.40. A 5-year-old daughter of Gulch, Snowdrops is owned by G. Howard Spink and trained by Christophe Clement.

"She was unlucky when getting boxed in the last time," said Clement. "We kept her a little closer to the pace than usual today. She's learned to relax better as she's gotten older so now we can be a little more aggressive with her. She's a very consistent filly but she's been unlucky on several occasions, and on grass you always need to be lucky to win."