Updated on 09/17/2011 9:41AM

Royal Spy captures Colonel E.R. Bradley

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NEW ORLEANS - Usually the Fair Grounds turf course is no place for a speed horse, but Royal Spy didn't have a problem with it, leading for much of the way Sunday in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap.

Second around the clubhouse turn, Royal Spy and Robby Albarado took the lead on the backstretch and never lost it, finishing strongly after a soft pace to score a one-length win.

The $75,000 Bradley revisited Royal Spy's halcyon days. A 4-year-old now, Royal Spy reached the zenith of his career during the summer of his 3-year-old season, winning a pair of turf stakes at Lone Star Park by a combined 16 and three-quarters lengths. But in eight starts since then, Royal Spy had never duplicated that form. He won a minor stakes at Mountaineer Park this summer, but might have left Fair Grounds with another disappointing effort Sunday.

"Honesty, we were getting ready to send him back home if he didn't run good today," said Tom Amoss, who trains Royal Spy for owners Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman. "We'll have to reassess the situation."

The Fair Grounds lawn typically eats up and spits out pace horses like Royal Spy, but pace horses won all three grass races here Sunday. Astrologist took the early lead in the Bradley, running a quarter-mile in 24.81 seconds, but Royal Spy was always right there to his inside and benefited from a slow half-mile in 50.67 seconds.

"You can go 54 [seconds] on this course and get beat," Albarado said. "But with this quality of horse, if you get an easy lead you're going to be tough to beat."

Royal Spy took a clear lead into the stretch and had little trouble holding off a host of closers. Dynameaux rallied well along the rail, but fell a length short at the finish while beating Freefourinternet by neck. Royal Spy, who paid $12.60 to win, was timed in 1:45.25 for about one and one-sixteenth miles over firm turf.

Among the horses giving futile chase to the leader was Green Fee, fifth his last start in the Breeders' Cup Mile and the 6-5 favorite Sunday. Green Fee broke from post 11, but got great position under Larry Melancon. He tracked the speed into the stretch, but flattened out in the last furlong and checked in fifth.

"He gave me a little bit, but not enough," Melancon said. "It wasn't a bad race, but it wasn't enough."