04/22/2005 11:00PM

Perfect trip for 'Pollard'

Four-Footed Fotos
Pollard's Vision outfinishes heavily favored Badge of Silver after receiving a stalking trip in the NJC 'Cap.

STICKNEY, Ill. - Pollard's Vision faced only three opponents Saturday in the at Hawthorne, but two horses were all he needed to get an ideal setup. With heavily favored Badge of Silver locked up in a pace battle with the local longshot Lord of the Game, Pollard's Vision waited back in third, challenged a tiring Badge of Silver in the stretch, and went on to a 1 1/4-length win.

The horse with one eye is now 2-for-2 at Hawthorne, with a win here last year in the Illinois Derby. His victory in the Grade 3, $250,000 NJC Handicap was his first in three starts this year, and Pollard's Vision ($6.40) turned the tables on Badge of Silver, to whom he'd finished fourth March 12 in the New Orleans Handicap.

"When I saw there were two speed horses, I knew we at least had a chance," said jockey John Velazquez, who rode Pollard's Vision for owner David Moore's Edgewood Farm and trainer Todd Pletcher.

"It worked out perfect when they hooked up," Velazquez said.

One of the speeds, Lord of the Game, broke a step slowly, but cruised up before the first turn to take on Badge of Silver and jockey Jerry Bailey. The first quarter was moderate for a nine-furlong graded stakes here, 23.49 seconds, but then the pace quickened significantly, with Badge of Silver and Lord of Game buzzing through a half-mile in 46.32. The second quarter had gone in 22.83 seconds, and that would prove Badge of Silver's undoing.

"That second quarter was pretty quick, and he'd missed some training," said trainer Bobby Frankel.

Velazquez began asking Pollard's Vision at the half-mile pole, and the horse started gaining around the far turn. Lord of the Game backed out at the top of the stretch, as Velazquez swung his mount to the inside to race head and head with Badge of Silver. The going got tight, but the horses never bumped, and Pollard's Vision edged clear in the final furlong.

Pollard's Vision was timed in 1:49.12 over a track rated good. Lord of the Game finished third, followed by Freefourinternet. Seek Gold was scratched.