11/26/2005 12:00AM

Purge redeems himself

After rallying from far back, Purge and Garrett Gomez cruise to a 3 3/4-length win in Saturday's Cigar Mile.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Entering the year, trainer Todd Pletcher felt that Purge could be as good as any older horse in the country. It took 11 months, but Purge finally fulfilled his trainer's promise by rallying from well off the pace to pull a huge upset in Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 before 4,484 at Aqueduct.

Mass Media, who raced much closer to the pace than usual, held second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Gygistar. Badge of Silver, the 2-1 favorite, finished eighth.

The victory capped a magical week for trainer Todd Pletcher, who on Friday established a single-year record for earnings by a trainer with more than $19.5 million. Earlier on Saturday, Pletcher won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes with Bluegrass Cat. On Thursday, Pletcher won the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs, and on Friday he won the Grade 2 Clark Handicap, also at Churchill.

As a 3-year-old, Purge was a multiple Grade 2 winner, taking the Peter Pan and Jim Dandy. Since that race, however, Purge had gone 1 for 7, the win coming in allowance company at Monmouth.

Saturday, however, Purge was back on his game. Under Garrett Gomez, Purge rated in ninth while stablemate Value Plus set the pace, running fractions of 22.72 seconds and 45.08 for the opening half-mile while being chased by Badge of Silver, Scrappy T, and Mass Media.

Purge launched his rally around the turn, coming around Straight Line and inside Badge of Silver approaching the quarter pole. Purge collared Mass Media inside the eighth pole and went on to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Purge, owned by the Starlight Stable of Jack and Laurie Wolf, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, ran one mile in 1:34.26 and returned $53.

"I tried to thread my way through," Gomez said. "He started picking them up handily. I turned for home, gave him some daylight, and he started picking them. He went into overdrive. He acted like he had been doing that all his life, sitting there like an old come-from-behind sprinter."

It was the fifth Grade 1 win in New York this year for the Southern California-based Gomez.

It was the last race for Purge, who retires to The Vinery with 6 wins from 15 starts and earnings of $905,434.

Badge of Silver may race again, though he was hugely disappointing Saturday. After stalking the pace, he backed up around the half-mile pole and was beaten 13 1/2 lengths.

"Never had any horse at any point," said Jerry Bailey.