07/07/2001 12:00AM

Saturday Stakes Recap

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Pompeii sharp in return from rest

A three-month layoff did little to diminish Pompeii's good form.

Racing for the first time since March 31, the 4-year-old Pompeii sat off the pace of the early leaders and then closed willingly to score a length victory in Saturday's $50,000 Doylestown Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

Ridden by Roberto Alvarado, Pompeii ($4) covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.43 while winning for the seventh time in 14 career starts for trainer John Kimmel and owner Robert Clay.

Pompeii sat comfortably in fifth in the field of eight fillies and mares and began to move closer to dueling leaders Weekend Kaper and another New York-based filly, Tax Affair, after six furlongs run in 1:11.48. Pompeii moved four wide on the turn to quickly put away Tax Affair and was hand-ridden to the wire. Gold for My Gal continued to gamely chase Pompeii, but could not gain much ground and had to settle for second, six lengths clear of third-place finisher Powerful Package.

Alvarado said he was never really concerned and was content to win without a big margin.

"I had plenty of horse the whole time," he said. "I basically just tapped her on the shoulder a couple times to keep her going and hand rode her to the finish. We were prepping for her next start, probably at Monmouth."

- Joe DeVivo

Thistledown: Harlan's Holiday romps

NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Harlan's Holiday assumed command before traveling a half-mile and went on to post a 5 1/4-length victory over nine 2-year-old Ohio-bred rivals in the $40,000 Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes at Thistledown.

Truth Matters finished second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of All Star Lover.

Harlan's Holiday, owned by Starlight Stable, won a maiden race in his second career start after finishing second in his debut at Churchill Downs.

In the 5 1/2-furlong Kindergarten, he was away in good order under Tony D'Amico and dueled for the lead with All Star Lover for a half before taking control. He was timed in 1:05.38 over the fast racing strip.

Truth Matters rallied from just off the pace to get up for second over the tiring All Star Lover.

Harlan's Holiday, trained by Ken McPeek, returned $4 to win.

- Chuck Scaravilli

Woodbine: Alexis surprises

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Longshot Alexis burst out of the pack in the stretch to take the Grade 3 $171,300 Dance Smartly Handicap by three-quarters of a length over American invader Badouizm at Woodbine.

Irish-bred Alexis returned $25.30 while winning her second North American stakes for owner Morgan Firestone. Trained by Cliff Hopmans Jr., she earned $102,780 for winning the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Jockey Jono Jones rated Alexis in fifth on the backstretch, about 3 1/2 lengths off Good Game, who set moderate fractions while being tracked by last year's Dance Smartly winner, Except for Wanda.

Alexis was behind a wall of horses early in the drive, but found room around the three-sixteenths pole and held Badouizm at bay in the final strides.

Only to You, the 8-5 favorite, was never a serious threat and finished another three-quarters of a length back in third in the 10-horse field. The final time, over a course rated as good, was 1:47.81.

"It's like a dream come true," said Hopmans. "We've worked so hard on her to try and get her to relax and to keep her sound. She just put it all together, and it was a terrific ride by Jono."

- Ron Gierkink