09/27/2008 12:00AM

Rollers holds off favorites


Rollers, a New York-bred with no previous stakes experience this year, took Saturday's $250,000 Gallant Bob Stakes right to his more accomplished rivals before ultimately emerging with a game three-quarter-length decision over 6-5 favorite Desert Key in the six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds at Philadelphia Park.

Rollers, a son of Stormy Atlantic owned by Lael Stables and trained by Barclay Tagg, earned his way into the Gallant Bob by virtue of a pair of very fast statebred allowance victories within a 15-day span last month at Saratoga. The performances earned him back-to-back Beyer Speed Figures of 100.

With jockey Mike Luzzi aboard for the first time, Rollers contested the early pace with longshot M J's Enchanteur over the muddy strip, the pair posting fractions of 21.82 seconds and 44.46 for the opening quarter- and half-mile, before Rollers ultimately emerged with a short advantage approaching the eighth pole.

Desert Key, runner-up in the Grade 1 King's Bishop in his previous start, rated just behind the early leaders and along with the stretch-running Lantana Mob appeared to have dead aim on the leader near midstretch. But Rollers had more than enough left to turn back the bids from both rivals, with Desert Key outlasting Lantana Mob by a nose for second.

Rollers completed the distance in 1:09.48 and paid $10.40.

* Sheets registered an even bigger upset earlier on the card when rallying four wide off the turn to a two-length decision over 9-5 favorite Smart and Fancy in the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap for fillies and mares.

Sheets was ridden to victory by Roberto Alvarado Jr. for trainer Alan Goldberg and owner Robert Masterson. She covered five furlongs in 57.56 seconds over a good course and returned $42.20.