10/04/2007 12:00AM

Philadelphia Park: Dirge makes stakes debut

EmailDirge, who has done little wrong since making his belated career debut on the flat earlier this year at age 5, will test stakes company for the first time in the $60,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race is restricted to Pennsylvania-breds and drew a full field of 14 older horses.

Since throwing his jockey in a hurdle race at Stonybrook, N.C., in April, Dirge has made four starts on the flat, winning three times and finishing second in the other. He comes off a dominating win over second-level allowance runners a month ago and will be facing statebreds for the first time.

In his short career, Dirge has proven versatile enough to win on the front end and coming from far off the pace.

His rivals include Hissouthernmajesty and R. Earl, who finished noses apart as the one-two finishers in a similar statebred stakes in late July. Also in the race is Serene Harbor, who beat open second-level allowance runners for his first turf win in July and most recently just missed after setting the pace in a nine-furlong statebred stakes contested over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs.