03/08/2008 1:00AM

Proudinsky runs down Daytona


When Proudinsky closed with a rush to finish second by a nose in the 2006 Arlington Classic, he looked like a comer among North American grass horses. He had been imported from Germany for that race, and it seemed obvious he could run, but it has taken many months for Proudinsky to really follow through on that Arlington teaser.

He did so Saturday at Fair Grounds, scoring the best win of his career in the $500,000 Mervin Muniz Handicap.

Proudinsky ($9.60), ridden for the first time by Garrett Gomez, wore down the pacesetting favorite Daytona to win by one length. French Beret caught Daytona at the wire for second, with Fracas rallying from last to finish fourth, more than two lengths behind Daytona.

The Gary Tanaka-owned Proudinsky was trained by Mario Hofer when he raced in the Arlington Classic, and Hofer was listed as trainer when Proudinsky came back just two weeks later in the Virginia Derby. Proudinsky finished an even fifth that afternoon, and has raced for trainer Bobby Frankel ever since.

Proudinsky won the Bay Meadows Derby in his first start for Frankel, but didn't start again for almost a year. All three starts after his return were solid, and in the Grade 2 Muniz, he turned the tables on Daytona, who had beaten Proudinsky by three-quarters of a length in the San Gabriel Handicap late last year.

The difference Saturday might have come from two sources. First, Proudinsky was kept well within striking range of Daytona, who led through fractions of 24.06 seconds for his opening quarter, 49.00 for the half, and 1:13.03 for three quarters.

Secondly, the Fair Grounds course was labeled yielding for the Muniz; Daytona showed past success over firm California carpets, but Proudinsky was proven over off going.

Asked for his best by Gomez at about the three-sixteenths pole, Proudinsky looked like a winner at the furlong pole, and pushed past for a solid victory, covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.44.

Kenner: Euroears remains unbeaten

Euroears continued to make doubters pay, as the unbeaten 4-year-old colt dominated a field of five older sprinters in the $200,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes.

Stalking for the first time his six-race career, Euroears ($4.20) took over in the turn and came home 3 1/4 lengths in front of the early front-runner, Semaphore Man.

Ridden by Ramsey Zimmerman, Euroears covered the six furlongs in 1:09.27.

Semaphore Man came out of the gate the quickest, going the first quarter-mile in 22.13 seconds. Zimmerman let Semaphore Man get clear by a length before asking Euroears take it to him on the turn.

"We could have gone to the front," said Zimmerman. "But when we left the gate I asked him what he wanted to do, and he told me he wanted to stalk."

"I was a little worried when Semaphore Man went to the front so easily," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Euroears for James and Marilyn Hunter. "But Ramsey switched him out and set patiently. When he ranged up to him that easily in the turn I had a good feeling."

Euroears hit the top of the stretch in front, and increased his margin to the wire. Semaphore Man held second, two lengths ahead of Noonmark.

"He's so versatile he can put himself in position to win every race," said Calhoun. "Most horses with that much speed will come a little unwound, but he's got a great mind."

Bienville: Fifth stakes for Pierce

Trainer Malcolm Pierce does not have a full barn of horses at Fair Grounds, but he is winning stakes races this meet like he does. Danceroftherealm won the $100,000 Bienville, the fifth stakes victory this season for the Pierce barn.

Danceroftherealm ($23.80) won her second stakes of the meet, having captured Leggio Memorial Stakes on Jan. 12. Saturday, under Miguel Mena, Danceroftherealm rallied down the middle of the course and beat favored Jazzy by 1 3/4 lengths. The longshot Kindling ran third, and was followed home by Tres Dream.

The pace in the 5 1/2-furlong Bienville seemed slow, 22.39 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, and 47.03 to the half. But the grass course was rated yielding, and the pacesetters all stopped in the stretch.

Smitty's Sunshine was the first to make a move, taking the lead in upper stretch. But she was no match in the late going for the deep closers, with Danceroftherealm, a Richard Lister-owned homebred, finishing best.

The winner was timed in 1:04.74.

- additional reporting by Abram Himelstein