03/07/2010 12:00AM

Paddy O'Prado wins maiden in a Grade 3

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Paddy O'Prado went into Saturday's at Gulfstream Park a maiden. He came out a stakes winner after leading throughout to register an easy 2 1/2-length victory over Dean's Kitten in the Grade 3 turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

Paddy O'Prado, a son of El Prado owned by Donnegal Racing, was winless in four previous starts and had never shown the type of speed that propelled him into an early pace battle with Asphalt in the 1 1/8-mile Palm Beach. The pair dueled through fractions of 23.11 seconds, 46.56 and a lively 1:10.10 while two lengths clear of the field approaching the stretch. Paddy O'Prado cut the corner turning for home and shook off Asphalt, opened a commanding advantage leaving the eighth pole and remained comfortably in front thereafter.

Dean's Kitten saved ground within easy striking distance of the leaders, swung wide while losing a bit of momentum entering the stretch, then leveled off late to easily be second best. Our Champion rallied belatedly to finish third.

Bim Bam, wire-to-wire winner of the Hallandale Beach in his previous start, raced forwardly while wide but had little left turning for home, finishing a disappointing fifth as the 9-5 favorite.

Despite entering the race a maiden, Paddy O'Prado was relatively well backed, returning $17.20 under jockey Jesus Castanon. His final time of 1:45.40 was nearly two seconds faster than Khancord Kid covered the same distance capturing the $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes an hour earlier.

"Why break your maiden for $50,000 when you can do it for $150,000," trainer Dale Romans quipped after the race. "He's one of the most talented horses I have in the barn. I knew that going in and you don't get that many opportunities to run these 3-year-olds in stakes so we threw him in.

"I didn't think he could get to the lead. I just wanted him to get a little closer but when Jesus asked him he came away running. I was sure he'd finish and once he got to the lead in the stretch."

Khancord Kid also benefitted from a speed-favoring turf course to register a half-length victory over an unlucky Apple Charlotte in the for 3-year-old fillies.

Khancord Kid vied for the early lead with Dynazaper, shook clear in early stretch, then was all out to withstand the runner-up. Apple Charlotte was forced to take up and dropped to the rear of the pack, clipped heels and stumbled while attempting to rally approaching the quarter pole, then finished full of run once finally clear to be second, a half-length in front of the tepid 3-1 favorite Upperline.

Rajiv Maragh rode Khancord Kid, a New York-bred daughter of Lemon Drop Kid owned and bred by Mary and Chester Broman, to victory for trainer John Kimmel. She paid $18.20 while completing nine furlongs in 1:47.14.

"The turf was a little on the soft side in her last start and she struggled to keep up early before making a late run once getting to the outside," said Kimmel. "" was just hoping she'd improve over firmer ground. She's run three times down here so she'll get a little break."