10/10/2009 12:00AM

Proceed Bee wins as outsider at Hawthorne


The farther he drifted out in the stretch, the more Proceed Bee extended his lead, and at the finish wire he had won the by 2 1/4 lengths despite racing nearer the outside fence than the inner rail.

Maybe wider was better on Saturday at Hawthorne, where several days of rain this week left the local grass course soft, tiring, and slow as could be: Winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was a mind-boggling 1:57, close to 13 seconds off the course record.

Favored No Inflation apparently hated the going. After pressing the pace of Romacaca, No Inflation backed rapidly through the field on the far turn. On the surface, the fractional times were moderate, with Romacaca going her opening half-mile in 48.98 seconds. But considering the glacial final time, those splits might actually have been quite taxing, and second-choice Romacaca, heavily bet at just under 5-2, faded to fifth.

Deep closers also appeared to struggle, and it was the mid-pack horses who asserted themselves in the stretch. Proceed Bee, rallying wide, outfinished California invader Sir Al, who raced near the rail through the stretch and narrowly got second over Quite a Handful, who was steadied around the eighth pole.

Proceed Bee, trained by Scott Becker (who won his first graded stakes race) for owner Bill Stiritz, paid $25.40 to win. Chris Emigh, back in from Keeneland to ride, was the winning jockey.