02/05/2005 12:00AM

Saint Liam wins duel in Donn

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After battling head to head with Roses in May down the backstretch, Saint Liam pulls away to a 3 3/4-length victory Saturday in the Grade 1 Donn.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - When Saint Liam turned down the backstretch of Saturday's $500,000 locked in a head-to-head battle with 6-5 favorite and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Roses in May, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said he wasn't the least bit concerned. After all, he'd been through the same scenario once before.

Last fall, Saint Liam engaged in a similar duel with Ghostzapper, giving the eventual Horse of the Year all he could handle before dropping a neck decision in the Grade 1 Woodward. This time, however, Saint Liam was the one to come out on top, drawing off to a convincing 3 3/4-length victory over Roses in May. The Grade 1 Donn was the marquee event on Saturday's spectacular card at Gulfstream Park that also included five other graded stakes .

Saint Liam ($5.60), owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr., gave Dutrow his second stakes winner on the card. Earlier in the day he won the Grade 2 Davona Dale with Sis City.

Roses in May and jockey John Velazquez, who was seeking his fifth winner on the card, and Saint Liam, with Edgar Prado aboard, hooked up shortly after the start of the 1 1/8-mile Donn. The pair raced as a team for nearly seven furlongs before Saint Liam forged clear from the outside approaching the quarter pole. Saint Liam bore out to the middle of the track leaving the turn, but was still able to increase his advantage once straightened away for the stretch run.

"I wasn't concerned because he'd been through this before," Dutrow said. "And I had Edgar on my horse. I wasn't even concerned when he bore out like that, because he had already passed the horse he had to beat and I didn't think anything else would come. Why he bore out, I can't say. Who knows why he does the stuff he does."

Roses in May carried on willingly from the rail and held off Eddington by three-quarters of a length to finish second. Seek Gold, Pies Prospect, and Wishingitwas completed the order of finish.

Dutrow, who called the Donn the biggest win of his career, said he didn't know what would be next on Saint Liam's agenda but mentioned the Dubai World Cup as a distinct possibility.

"We'll look at the big race in Dubai, although I don't know if the owners want to do that," said Dutrow.

As for the prospect of facing the Bobby Frankel-trained Ghostzapper again later this season, Dutrow said, "Bobby told me to have fun now because we'll be back soon."