02/20/2005 12:00AM

Papua wins third straight Hollie Hughes

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Papua ran past front-running Show Boot inside the final furlong to win Sunday's $80,975 at Aqueduct for the third straight year.

Under Richard Migliore, Papua settled off a four-ply speed duel, rallied inside around the turn, came off the rail in upper stretch, and drew off to a 3 3/4-length victory. Show Boot, who turned back three early pace challenges while running a half-mile in 44.91 seconds, held second by 1 3/4 lengths over Citizenship. Impeachthepro, Introspect and Scary Bob completed the order of finish.

Papua, a 6-year-old son of Louis Quatorze, became the first horse to win the Hollie Hughes in three successive years. Four other horses had won it twice in a row. Papua, who carried highweight of 123 pounds, was winless in nine starts since taking last year's Hollie Hughes, restricted to New York breds.

"This was a lot of fun," said Mike Hushion, who trains Papua for former NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz. "This was as strong as any of his races. He just `whooshed' to the lead today."

Hushion reunited Papua with Richard Migliore, who had been aboard Papua for six of his previous nine victories including the 2003 Hollie Hughes. Papua covered six furlongs in 1:09.76 over a fast inner track and returned $4.50 as the favorite.

"I had a good trip and the best horse, and a lot of times, that's unbeatable," Migliore said. "On the turn, I felt good about it, but then when he got closer to the kickback, he pinned his ears because the dirt was coming back so hard. I tapped him on the shoulder to say, `Hey, run through that dirt.'"