02/14/2004 12:00AM

Pheiffer scores upset in Richmond Handicap

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ALBANY, Calif. - Pheiffer ($19.20) sat just off the early pace of Goldy Rock and pulled away in the lane to win the $56,650 Richmond Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

The 6-year-old mare was second one length behind Goldy Rock through a 21.96 opening quarter. She was within one-half length after a 44.43 half mile. Talk Me Again, expected to contest the lead, broke slowly from the rail and was never a factor in the race.

Pheiffer sat outside Goldy Rock down the backstretch and had enough early speed to discourage favored Brite Betty from her outside. She and Goldy Rock opened up on the turn. Pheiffer had the leader measured, took over in the lane and pulled away to win by two lengths in 1:09.61. Christmas Time, last early, rallied for third but was six behind Goldy Rock.

"When (owner) Billy (Hipwell) called this morning and said it was his birthday, I knew it was our day," winning trainer Donna Elordi said. "When she's right, she's pretty awesome.

"I thought (Brite Betty) would be all over us down the backstretch, but when we edged away from her, it was looking good."

Winning jockey Ron Warren Jr. said he asked Pheiffer a bit heading into the turn to maintain his advantage over Brite Betty.

"I only had to use her a little bit," Warren said. "When I looked turning for home and didn't see anyone coming, I felt pretty confident. Today she broke good and settled off the pace like I wanted. It added up to her best race."

The victory was Pheiffer's seventh in 20 starts. She earned $30,250 to lift her career earnings to $169,650.