10/24/2003 11:00PM

Randaroo ends Castillo's drought


ELMONT, N.Y. - Randaroo emerged from a four-way scramble for the lead to set a pressured pace around the turn, opened up a clear lead in midstretch, and staved off a rally from 1-2 favorite Shine Again in Saturday's $150,000 First Flight Handicap at Belmont.

Randaroo ($11.20), coming off a victory in the six-furlong Safely Kept at Pimlico, handled the stretch to seven furlongs to win the Grade 2 First Flight under Heberto Castillo Jr. Castillo snapped an 0-for-96 winless streak in New York that dated back to July 20. A 3-year-old filly, Randaroo was making her second start for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

After battling between three rivals through a quarter in 22.45 seconds, Randaroo reached the half-mile in 45.64 seconds while pressed by Follow Me Home, and was clear at the eighth pole after six furlongs in 1:10.42. She held on to get the seven furlongs in 1:23.65 on a fast track, with 121-pound highweight Shine Again a neck behind. Zawzooth rallied from last in the field of eight to finish third, a half-length in front of Drexel Monorail.

The $90,000 winner's share boosted Randaroo's earnings to $351,680 from a record of 5-3-0 in 10 career starts.

The 6-year-old mare Shine Again finished second as the favorite for the fifth straight time, a stretch that included runner-up efforts in the Vagrancy, Honorable Miss, Ballerina, and Floral Park handicaps.

"She was coming steady but ran out of ground," said jockey Richard Migliore.

* The Grade 3, $112,700 Sport Page Handicap was a family affair, as Voodoo, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, easily held safe Bowman's Band, trained by Jimmy's father, Allen.

Voodoo ($10.60) stalked early leader Bishop Court Hill down the backstretch. He forged to the lead midway on the far turn after a half-mile in 45.59, opened up beneath Jorge Chavez turning for home, and was never seriously threatened.

Voodoo rebounded from a sixth-place finish in last month's Vosburgh. He ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.18. Voodoo earned $67,620, and improved his record to 7-2-4 from 21 career starts.

"He's run some big races, and it's rewarding to get a stakes win in him," said Jimmy Jerkens.

Bowman's Band, the 120-pound highweight and 6-5 choice, was turning back from a win in the nine-furlong Meadowlands Cup. He broke slowest in the field of nine, rallied three wide on the turn, and was all out to edge rail-skimming Highway Prospector for second.

"He hung a little, but ran good," said Allen Jerkens. "The winner got away from everybody."