05/22/2004 12:00AM

Onebigbag offers immediate return in Saratoga Handicap


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Onebigbag ($19.40), claimed for $50,000 in his last start, rallied from off the pace to win the $67,512 Saratoga Handicap at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

Favored El Dorado Shooter started a bit slowly and trailed Flying Supercon down the backstretch. He took the lead on the turn and had an open advantage in the lane but could not maintain it in the stretch.

Onebigbag sat behind the speed, moved three wide on the turn and proved too much for El Dorado Shooter after sticking his head in front at the eighth pole.

He had plenty left to withstand the strong closing kick of R. Baggio and Debonair Joe, winning the six-furlong race by one-half length in 1:09.10. Debonair Joe finished a neck behind runner-up R. Baggio.

El Dorado Shooter finished fifth. "After he changed leads in the lane, there was nothing," jockey Roberto Gonzalez said.

"He's a whole different horse since the last time I rode him," winning jockey Chad Schvaneveldt said. "This horse ran a monster race. When I asked him, he dropped and cut."

"He was in a perfect post (the eight)," winning trainer John F. Martin said. "With all the speed, we decided to take a little off the pace. We weren't sure how he'd run coming off the pace, but he seemed to like it."

Robert B. Bone claimed Onebigbag, who won for the fourth time in seven starts this year, in his last start. It was the first time the 4-year-old gelding had run for a tag.

"We both kinda picked the horse out," said Martin, who wins 30 percent first off a claim. "He's a nice horse. We hoped he was worth the $50,000 we claimed him for."

Onebigbag earned $39,875 to lift his career earnings to $206,786 with five victories in 22 career starts.