06/29/2007 11:00PM

Political Force scores upset for Jerkens

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Diane Booth/Horsephotos
Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Political Force holds off Fairbanks by 1 1/4 lengths to win the Grade 1 Suburban.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Forty-five years after pulling off one of the more memorable upsets in the history of the Suburban Handicap, Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens pulled off another one, albeit much less shocking.

Political Force, trained by the 78-year-old Jerkens, rallied past pacesetting Fairbanks in upper stretch, then held on despite drifting out in the stretch to win Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Suburban by 1 1/4 lengths before a crowd of 7,716 at Belmont Park. Fairbanks held second by two lengths over 52-1 shot Malibu Moonshine.

Evening Attire finished fourth and was followed by Hesanoldsalt and Corinthian, the 3-2 favorite, who was beaten 12 1/2 lengths.

In 1962, Jerkens sent out Beau Purple to knock off odds-on favorite Kelso when the Suburban was held before 52,154 at Aqueduct. Jerkens also won this race in 1993 and 1994 with Devil His Due.

Political Force, a son of Unbridled's Song owned and bred by Joe Allen, was the least accomplished runner in this year's field, with three wins from 14 starts. But his recent second-place finishes in the Westchester and Metropolitan handicaps were the best races he had run to date.

On Saturday, Political Force saved all the ground under Cornelio Velasquez for the first mile of the race. Fairbanks, under Richard Migliore, set the pace and repelled midrace challenges from Hesanoldsalt and Corinthian while running a mile in 1:34.90.

Velasquez guided Political Force off the rail turning for home and he overtook Fairbanks outside the three-sixteenths pole. Just when it looked like he was going to draw clear, Political Force began to drift out badly down the lane. But he was able to hold off Fairbanks, who tried in vain to battle back. Political Force covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.50 and returned $12.

"He was getting late," Jerkens said. "He always lugs in, so I hope nothing's wrong with him. At least he got his Grade 1."

Velasquez said he had plenty of horse when he got to the quarter pole.

"I asked him a little bit, he passed [Fairbanks] and he waited on horses," Velasquez said.

Corinthian was the biggest disappointment of the race. He raced three wide down the backstretch but offered no response when Kent Desormeaux asked him at the quarter pole.

"He didn't just slow down, his head came up in the air and said 'Not today. I'm just not up to it,' " Desormeaux said. "I banged on him a couple of times, but it was like spanking on dead wood."