09/02/2006 12:00AM

Premium Tap springs $64 upset

Premium Tap, with Kent Desormeaux riding, shows no signs of his past soundness issues, winning the Grade 1 Woodward on Saturday at 31-1.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When Premium Tap beat Sun King in a little overnight stakes at Belmont Park two months ago, he gave John Kimmel his 1,000th career victory as a trainer. On Saturday, at cloudy and cool Saratoga, Premium Tap beat Sun King again, giving Kimmel something even more memorable.

Bouncing back from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney last month, Premium Tap overtook Second of June in midstretch and outdueled that rival through the lane to win the Grade 1, $500,000 by a half-length. It was three-quarters of a length back to Sun King in third.

Papi Chullo finished fourth, and was followed in the order of finish by Andromeda's Hero, Wild Desert, Flower Alley, Funny Cide, Naughty New Yorker, and Suave. Wanderin Boy was scratched.

Sent off at odds of 31-1, Premium Tap returned $64 to win, believed to be the largest win payoff in the 53-year history of the Woodward. This was the first time the Woodward had been run at Saratoga.

Under Kent Desormeaux, Premium Tap broke on top but entering the first turn he let Second of June, under Garrett Gomez, take the lead. Meanwhile, Sun King and Suave steadied behind that pair entering the clubhouse turn.

Premium Tap sat off of Second June through fractions of 23.63 seconds, 47.37, and 1:11.88. Premium Tap engaged Second of June turning for home, and though the two bumped in midstretch, Premium Tap, his tongue wagging like Michael Jordan, was going better of the two and got the win.

"I think Garrett was trying to find more on his pony and all he did was make Premium Tap go faster," Desormeaux said of the bumping incident. "He's a fighter."

Premium Tap, a 4-year-old son of Pleasant Tap, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.65 over a fast main track. It was Premium Tap's fifth win from 14 career starts and boosted his earnings to $471,280 for owners George Kline, Peter Alevizos, and David Whelihan.

Kimmel had always thought highly of Premium Tap, but the horse had soundness issues as a 3-year-old. Kimmel blamed his poor effort in the Whitney on a lack of fitness caused by Kimmel's inability to train the horse due to poor weather and track conditions. Premium Tap jogged for 18 days leading up to the Whitney, Kimmel said.

As Sun King, the 2-1 favorite, rallied to be third, it put an exclamation point on a dismal day for trainer Nick Zito, who went winless with eight starters on the card.