12/01/2001 1:00AM

Radar Contact captures Albany


ALBANY, Calif - Radar Contact settled early then went into a prolonged rally down the stretch as he nipped favored Rio Oro by a head to win the$60,513 Albany Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

Even jockey Adalberto Lopez wasn't sure he'd win. "They were so far in front of us when I got him out that I didn't think we could get there.

I knew we'd get a part of it, but I didn't think we could get it all," he said.

Radar Contact, who returned $41.40, is trained by Larry Ross, who also trained third-place finisher Secret Launch, who finished a nose in front of Love That Lion.

"It was great winning two photos," Ross said.

Earlier Saturday, jockey Frank Alvarado was taken to Alta Bates

Hospital in Berkeley after Sam Red Cat broke down in the stretch of a 2-year-old maiden race. Alvarado, who had returned to the races on Thanksgiving Dayafter suffering a fractured collarbone, had a bruised right shin and had his right ankle and right thumb X-rayed. Sam Red Cat had to be euthanized.