03/27/2004 12:00AM

Polish Summer wins Sheema for Stevens-Fabre

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Jockey Gary Stevens launched his season-long partnership with French trainer Andre Fabre with a dramatic victory in the $2 million Sheema Classic aboard Polish Summer.

Racing in mid-pack for most of the about 1 1/2 miles on turf, Stevens waited until late stretch to ask his mount.

Polish Summer quickly responded to catch an unlucky Hard Buck, the winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap last month. Scott's View finished third in the field of 13. Polish Summer was timed in 2:31.09.

"That was the way Andre wanted me to wait," Stevens said. "He's a smart old horse and he tends to hang."

Trainer Ken McPeek was near tears after the defeat, mainly out of frustration. Hard Buck stalked pacesetter Warrsan until early stretch, led briefly and finished a half-length behind Polish Summer.

"I hate running second in these kinds of races, but I'm thrilled with the way he ran," McPeek said.

McPeek has an ambitious worldwide schedule under consideration for Hard Buck this summer, including the King George VI Stakes in England in the summer and the Japan Cup in the fall.

Polish Summer, owned by Juddmonte Farms, was fifth in the Turf Classic at Belmont Park last fall.