04/18/2003 12:00AM

Ocean Drive wins

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ocean Drive began her 3-year-old season in Friday's $111,300 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland in the same manner in which she began her career last year - with a striking victory.

Ocean Drive took command early and held on to defeat Tangle, who rallied in the stretch and lost by a half-length. Longshot Cheryl's Mist finished 6 3/4 lengths farther back in third.

Ocean Drive ran the one mile on turf in 1:36.13 and paid $6.

Ocean Drive, who won three times in four starts last year at age 2, displayed a new running style in the Appalachian. Showing surprising speed, she went to the lead under Jerry Bailey and set quick fractions of 22.99, 46.65, and 1:12.06 on a yielding course. Midway on the turn she began to inch away from much of the opposition, and thereafter the Appalachian became a two-horse race.

Tangle, who rated in fifth early, advanced rapidly under Corey Nakatani to challenge the winner. She seemed in a position to run down Ocean Drive in midstretch, but Ocean Drive repelled her bid.