08/26/2006 11:00PM

Promenade Girl wins Molly Pitcher


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Promenade Girl fought back to beat Round Pond by a head at the end of a furious stretch battle to win the Grade 2, $294,000 in the slop Sunday at Monmouth Park.

Promenade Girl ($7.60) shot right to the front in the 1 1-16 miles race and was closely tracked by Lexi Star and Round Pond, the 1-2 favorite.

Round Pond made a brief run at the leader with a three-wide move on the back side but backed off when Promenade Girl let out a notch at the urging of Jeremy Rose.

The battle was joined in earnest on the final turn as Joe Bravo, riding Round Pond for the first time, asked the Grade 1 winner for her run.

It turned into a thriller through the lane with Round Pond, making her first start since March, taking a narrow lead with an eighth of a mile to run.

Promenade Girl, who loves a wet track, was not done. She battled back in the final bob to pull out the biggest win of her career.

"I hit her left handed and I could feel her coming back," Rose said.

Promenade Girl earned her first graded victory while improving her career record to 8-for-14. The 4-year-old trained by Maryland-based Lawrence Murray improved her wet track record to 3-0-1 in four starts.

"She was really game in the stretch," Murray said. "We're thrilled."

It was also game effort by Round Pond in her comeback. She had been sidelined by a foot problem and was making her first start for trainer Michael Matz following the split between owner Rick Porter and trainer John Servis.

"It was a close one and she tried hard," Matz said. "We were a little bit rushed the last week to get her ready and the other horse obviously loves the slop."

Round Pond, 4, is 6-for-9 lifetime with her biggest victory coming last year in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park.

La Reason, the 2004 Molly Pitcher winner, rallied for third, 4 3-4 lengths behind Round Pond.

Lexi Star was fourth followed by Friel's for Real.

Capeside Lady, the 2005 winner of the race, was an early scratch.

The time was 1:42.98.

* The two supporting stakes, the Choice for 3-year-olds and the Incredible Revenge for fillies and mares at 5 1-2 furlongs, both came off the turf.

Gottcha Gold beat stablemate Electrify by a half length in the $72,800 Choice Stakes.

The race scratched down to only three runners, eliminating place, show and trifecta wagering.

Gottcha Gold ($4) ran the 1 1-8 miles in 1:50.63. Chuckie Lopez rode the winner for trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr.

In the $82,880 Incredible Revenge, Pretty Imposing won her second wet-track stakes of the meet with a 5 3-4 length romp. She won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes on July 22 by 11 lengths in the mud.

Pretty Imposing ($4.60) was timed in 1:03.27 with Alan Garcia riding for trainer Tony Wilson.