06/07/2002 11:00PM

Orchard Park racks up fifth straight win


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Orchard Park, rated perfectly by Mark Guidry, split horses in deep stretch on his way to a well-earned victory Saturday as the favorite in the Grade 3, $277,500 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs.

Orchard Park, bred and owned by Peter Vesgo and trained by Bill Mott, prevailed by a length over Mr. Mellon in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. Quest Star finished third, another 2 1/2 lengths back in a field of eight 3-year-olds.

Most of the field had their chances, with Red Masque and Forget the Judge taking the early lead, after which February Storm and Quest Star made serious bids turning for home. Jockey Craig Perret, who won four races on the undercard, took command aboard Quest Star in midstretch, but Orchard Park made quick work of him, with Mr. Mellon finishing resolutely on the outside to be second.

The victory was the fifth in the last five starts for Orchard Park, a Florida-bred colt by Hennessy. He paid $4.40 after finishing in 1:48.53 over a firm course.

His long-range summer goal is the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington on Aug. 17, said assistant trainer Ralph Nicks.

* Apprentice rider Valerie Nagle was kept overnight at Caritas Medical Center after her mount in the fourth race, Derby City Slew, broke down badly, tossing the rider. Nagle was diagnosed with a concussion but no other major injuries, Churchill officials said.