08/18/2003 12:00AM

Perfect Moon wins Best Pal Stakes


DEL MAR, Calif. - The California 2-year-old male division found a leader on Sunday.

After four different males won stakes at Hollywood Park and in the early part of the Del Mar meeting, Perfect Moon, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 19, became the first two-time stakes winner in the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar.

The third choice in a field of 10, Perfect Moon ($9.40) rallied from fourth to win by 1 1/4 lengths over 10-1 Capitano. Military Mandate, who led early, finished third, losing by 2 1/2 lengths. Siphonizer, the 9-5 favorite, was fifth in traffic in early stretch and failed to rally in the final furlong.

Perfect Moon finished 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.90 under Patrick Valenzuela. On Saturday morning, Perfect Moon blew out three furlongs in 33.80 seconds, a quick time that trainer Mel Stute expected to be even faster.

"I want him to have that habit of finishing in the stretch," he said.

Perfect Moon was bought for $4,700 at a Maryland yearling sale and is owned by Stute's wife, Annabelle, and Dan Schiffer's The Hat Ranch. Perfect Moon will be pointed for the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 10.

"I think the farther he goes, the better he'll be," Stute said. "He's really improved in the last two months."