06/18/2011 5:10PM

Parx: El Churruca nips Ben's Cat as Chamberlain Bridge a dull sixth

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Barbara Weidl/Equiphoto
El Churruca (5), under Angel Arroyo, holds off Ben's Cat and Jeremy Rose by a head in the Parx Dash Handicap.

Horse-for-the-course El Churruca, making just his third start since October 2009, withstood a furious late rally by Maryland shipper Ben’s Cat to register the biggest win of his 30-race career in Saturday’s $200,000 Parx Dash Handicap at Parx Racing.

While El Churruca ($17.80) and Ben’s Cat provided a thrilling stretch run, finishing within a head of each other after five furlongs in 56.81 seconds over a turf course rated good, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Chamberlain Bridge turned in a dull performance.

Sent off as the 7-5 favorite in a field of seven older turf sprinters, Chamberlain Bridge never threatened and wound up sixth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths. It was Chamberlain Bridge’s third straight loss as a favorite since April and his worst placing since he was seventh of 11 in the Grade 2 Nearctic at Woodbine in October 2009.

The 6-year-old El Churruca, locally based with trainer Ramon Preciado, pressed the pace set by Lt. Hopeful, a California invader making his first start since last October’s Grade 3 Morvich at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet. Under Angel Arroyo, El Churruca put his head in front at the eighth pole and was all out to hold off Ben’s Cat, who moved from fifth to within a head of the lead in the final furlong.

Ben’s Cat, beaten for the first time in a turf sprint after winning his first four grass races at distances between five and six furlongs, was 1 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Radiohead, a New York shipper.

Owned by Victory Thoroughbreds, El Churruca is now 11 for 30 lifetime, including 7 wins in 15 turf races at Parx.  His previous stakes win came against Pennsylvania-breds in the 2009 Mr. Jenney Handicap.