08/18/2001 11:00PM

Once Around wins Junior Champion Stakes

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Once Around, still a maiden before Sunday, took the turf nicely in her grass debut, taking the $50,000 Junior Champion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at one mile.

Once Around, trained by Vicki Oliver for G. Watts Humphrey, came five-wide in the final turn under Dale Beckner and never relinquished the lead, holding on for a 1 1/4-length win over Christmas Party and the troubled favorite Multitudinous. Once Around, a daughter of You and I, was making her second career start. She paid $34.60 and topped a $182.60 exacta.

Once Around broke last out of the gate, sitting off a moderate pace set by P.J.'s Day, before closing widest turning for home. Multitudinous, the even-money favorite, broke near the back of the pack, and encountered the most trouble in the race. Multitudinous, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Jose Ferrer, was boxed in turning for home, and then ran into extremely tight quarters in the stretch and had to check back. She was guided to the rail after checking, and was beaten a head for second to Christmas Party. Meanwhile, Once Around was clear of traffic after circling the field and headed home trouble free to overcome a field of 10 juvenile fillies.

"She's a Canadian-bred so I might look to run her in a stakes up there," said Oliver. "It's real nice to break your maiden in a stakes."