08/17/2001 11:00PM

Sarafan wins first stakes by a head

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Sarafan won his first stakes in the United States in Friday's $76,350 Harry Brubaker Handicap at Del Mar.

Sent off at 12-1, Sarafan closed from sixth at the top of the stretch and caught pacesetter I've Decided to win the restricted race by a head. I've Decided, the 8-5 favorite, held second, finishing a nose in front of Lonesome Dude in the field of nine.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Sarafan finished 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.62, missing Ice Hot's 1986 course record by .62 seconds.

Delta Form, a 5-year-old Australian-bred who won two stakes in South Africa in 2000, finished fourth in his U.S. debut.

The Brubaker was Sarafan's fifth start in the United States. Trained by Neil Drysdale for Osborne House, the 4-year-old Sarafan won the minor Stardom Stakes as a 2-year-old in England, his only other stakes win before Friday.

The Brubaker was Sarafan's second stakes appearance since joining Drysdale's stable last winter. In April, Sarafan was fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park.