02/08/2004 12:00AM

Randaroo much the best in Shirley Jones

Email
EQUI-PHOTOS
Randaroo scores a 7 1/4-length win in the Grade 3, $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - On paper and on the tote board, Sunday's $100,000 at Gulfstream was a two horse race. And for five furlongs that was the case.

But in the end, Randaroo turned the seven furlong Shirley Jones into a one horse runaway, easily pulling away from defending champion Harmony Lodge for a 7 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 dash.

Randaroo broke alertly under jockey John Velazquez and went right to the lead with Harmony Lodge and Richard Migliore right at their throatlatch in the run down the backstretch. The two favorites opened daylight on their six rivals from the outset and continued as a team into the stretch at which point Randaroo asserted her superiority and easy pulled away to her fourth graded stakes victory in her last five starts.

Harmony Lodge shortened stride noticeably once settling into the stretch but managed to hold off Halory Leigh to finish second by three parts of a length.

Randaroo's final time of 1:21.42 seconds established a new stakes record, eclipsing the old mark set by Santa Catalina in 1994. She paid $5.60.

"She's a very nice filly and it's really nice to see her run like this," said McLaughlin who has saddled nine winners from just 13 starters at the meet. "We'll probably look next at the Hurricane Bertie(March 7) although there's a chance she good go to Dubai. We all want to go for that $2 million."

Velazquez, who had not ridden Randaroo since guiding her to a similar one sided victory in the Valley Stream Stakes at 2, said he wanted to be on the lead from the outset.

"She broke well and I was trying to jump in front of the other horse(Harmony Lodge) right from the start to discourage her a little bid."