06/11/2001 12:00AM

Rampaging Alf goes on rampage in Longden


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - On paper it looked like there would be a furious battle for the front end between Lord Nelson, King Jeremy, and Rampaging Alf in the John Longden 6000 Sunday at Hastings Park. However, when they sprung the gate Rampaging Alf looked like he was given a head start as he quickly opened up on the rest of the field and then cruised to a 5 1/2-length victory over the late-running Ball and Chain. Rampaging Alf set sprint-like fractions of 23.10, 46.09, 1:10.62 en route to an impressive final time of 1:43.50 for 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track that was playing slower than normal all day.

"He just came out of there running," said Pedro Alvarado who was aboard for his first stakes win of the meet. "After he broke so sharply I just tried to slow him down as much as I could and he was so far in front that I was able to give him a nice breather down the backside. I let him run a little bit around the stretch turn and when nobody came to me I just coasted home. I had a lot of horse left at the finish."

When Rampaging Alf is firing on all cylinders he can totally dominate his opposition and his trainer Terry Jordan was pretty confident he was going to run a big race Sunday. "I know a lot of people were skeptical that he would go this far," said Jordan, "but remember how easily he won the Juvenile when he was a 2-year-old."

In the Juvenile Rampaging Alf also was an easy gate to wire winner but in two subsequent tries at 1 1/16 miles he faltered both times to finish third. "We could never get him right last year," said Jordan. "He had problems with his feet and frankly I misdiagnosed what the problem was. We were looking in the wrong direction. But I wasn't the only one; the vets couldn't figure it out either."

It turns out that Rampaging Alf's feet take a long time to grow and when he's getting shod the blacksmith has to be very careful not to take off any of the foot. "The whole key to him is the shoeing and Jimmy Jackson is doing it now and he does a great job."

Owner Paul Minichiello banked $25,920 for the win. Minichiello and Jordan are considering the one-mile Seattle Slew Handicap at Emerald Downs July 1 for Rampaging Alf's next start.

Last year's horse of the year King Jeremy was sent off as a slight favorite over Ball and Chain but after being up close early, he faded to last. "He broke a bit sluggishly and he seemed to be having a hard time handling the track," said his rider David Wilson. "He also didn't like getting hit in the face by all of that mud."

Sunday's handle of $800,381 was the largest of the year and a large part of that can be attributed to having a full field for the Longden. Most of the stakes races that have been run at the meet have had short fields and Hastings Park hasn't found many tracks interested in taking their signal. Racing officials in California and Washington found the Longden attractive enough to include in their programs and the $255,576 wagered on the race was by far the largest amount bet on a single race this season.