05/21/2001 11:00PM

Saturday's stakes roundup (5/19)

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STICKNEY, Ill. - Duckhorn bounced back from an abysmal race last month and upset the Grade 2 $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Saturday, setting a fast pace and holding off a late run by Lido Palace.

Duckhorn, a 4-year-old Not for Love colt owned by Michael Tabor, paid $25.60 to win.

His upset gave trainer Pat Byrne and jockey Randall Meier their second Gold Cup wins. Byrne won the 1998 Gold Cup with Awesome Again, while Meier rode Supreme Sound to a victory in the race in 1999.

Duckhorn had not been pointed for the Gold Cup. Trainer Pat Byrne cautiously evaluated the horse's condition following a 23-length loss in his last start, the National Jockey Club Handicap at Sportsman's Park. "I thought maybe I'd run him in an allowance race" at Churchill Downs, Byrne said.

But Hawthorne racing officials continued wooing Byrne in the days leading up to the Gold Cup, and with Duckhorn training "brilliantly," Byrne said, he opted to enter him here at the eleventh hour.

Duckhorn has been on-again, off-again over the last six months, mixing brilliance with disappointment. "He's driving handicappers crazy," Byrne said. But the good Duckhorn showed up from the gate Saturday. He broke sharply from post one under Meier, a jockey renowned for his ability on speed horses, and took control of the race as the horses ran down the stretch for the first time in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup.

Duckhorn was flying on a track that wasn't fast Saturday, running a half-mile in 46.34 seconds and three-quarters in a blistering 1:10.23, but he appeared to be running easily. Byrne had instructed Meier to let the horse roll from the start. "I didn't want to grab him," Meier said.

"I know we were going fast, but he was just pricking his ears. When we turned for home, he just cut."

Lido Palace, who saved ground through the race, ran at Duckhorn in the stretch. He was gaining through the last quarter-mile, but fell 1 1/4 lengths short. Guided Tour, the narrow favorite, outgamed Jadada for the show spot, but ran a somewhat flat race Saturday.

Second choice Ecton Park steadily faded and finished last while National Jockey Club winner Chicago Six was fifth.

- Marcus Hersh

Golden Ballet with the greatest of ease

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Golden Ballet outclassed five other 3-year-old fillies for her fourth stakes win of the year in the $150,000 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park Saturday.

Her authoritative four-length win, before an ontrack crowd of 12,146, will make her a heavy favorite in her next start - the $150,000 Princess Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on June 16.

Sent off at 1-10 in the Grade 2 Railbird, Golden Ballet ($2.20) led throughout despite a bobble at the start. Ridden by Chris McCarron, Golden Ballet finished seven furlongs in 1:21.57.

"She went fast and there was some pressure applied at a couple of points, but she's a special filly," trainer Jenine Sahadi said. "Chris knows what she's capable of and that's a huge asset."

Owned by Team Valor Racing and Bill Heiligbrodt, Golden Ballet was making her first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 7, her only loss in five starts this year.

o Fertile dragged jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. into the winner's circle of the Nursery Stakes.

Running in fourth-place on the turn of the five-furlong race, Fertile rapidly jumped into contention after Pincay urged her on the turn. Pincay had to do as much steering as riding entering the stretch. "I was surprised she was so far back," Pincay said. "She didn't have a lot of speed, but came running. She was flying and the horse in front of me backed off. I didn't want to clip heels."

Once settled, Fertile caught Georgia's Storm in early stretch and won comfortably by 3 1/2 lengths, finishing in 57.95 seconds. Georgia's Storm held second, finishing a length in front of Asian Adventure in the field of seven 2-year-old fillies.

- Steve Andersen

Big week for Migliore

ELMONT, N.Y. - Richard Migliore capped off a big week by winning the $200,000 Shuvee at Belmont Park aboard Apple of Kent. On Friday, he had captured the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on Two Item Limit.

At the start of the one-mile Grade 2 Shuvee, Migliore sent Apple of Kent to the lead. They were joined by March Magic, the longshot in the five-horse field of fillies and mares. The pacesetters set a leisurely first quarter in 24.11 seconds and stepped it a bit for a half-mile in 47.34.

Apple of Kent accelerated in upper stretch and drew off to a 3 3/4-length win over March Magic, who came on again late to nose out favorite Country Hideaway for second place. The final time, was 1:35.16 over a fast track.

Migliore said he gives trainer John Kimmel and his crew at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland plenty of credit for the win.

"She used to get anxious and that would mess up her breathing; her airway would get shut down," Migliore said. "You can't appreciate how much they have done with this horse. This is the first time I felt she has reached her potential."

Kimmel said Apple of Kent ($10.80) would run next in the $250,000 Hempstead Handicap on June 23.

- Karen M. Johnson

Churchill: Megans Bluff with ease

Megans Bluff rated behind the pace set by Trip, then blew past at the top of the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Trip set a quick pace in the Mint Julep for a course that had taken rain, reeling off six furlongs in 1:11.71, and Megans Bluff ($8), ridden by Craig Perret, was in perfect position to take command when Trip tired turning for home. She easily held clear Sitka's late move.

Megans Bluff ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.88 on a turf course upgraded from yielding to good in the middle of Churchill's program.

- Marcus Hersh

Woodbine: Win City gets through

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Win City overcame traffic problems at Woodbine to take the $136,000 Marine Stakes, a prep for the June 24 Queen's Plate.

Win City raced four lengths off Runnin West, who set an honest pace and was tracked by New York invader High Commissioner, the 4-5 favorite.

High Commissioner assumed command heading into the far turn, while Win City lacked a clear path and was steadied by jockey Constant Montpellier, who angled him wide at the quarter pole.

Lunar Secret made a bid to take the lead at the quarter pole, but High Commissioner regained control with an eighth left. Win City overhauled High Commissioner in the drive en route to a three-quarter-length victory. Lunar Secret finished five lengths back in third in the six-horse field.

Win City ($6.90) earned $81,600 for owners Frank DiGiulio and Frank DiGiulio Jr. and trainer Bob Tiller.

- Ron Gierkink

Bay Meadows: Filly outruns odds

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Allright Now, a French filly making her U. S. debut, rallied strongly in the stretch to win the $65,850 Bay Meadows Oaks by 1 1/2 lengths.

With Ron Warren aboard, Allright Now ($30.60) rated in seventh place in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, as Super Tuesday and De Goddaughter battled it out on the pace. Allrightnow moved closer on the final turn while saving ground, then burst through between horses near midstretch to quickly surge to the front and draw off.

Alinga, the 6-5 favorite, had a wide trip, then failed to offer any bid in the stretch and finished fifth, four lengths behind the winner.

Allright Now, who was purchased by trainer Wesley Ward at a sale in France in April, ran the distance in 1:43.34 and earned $28,350. Ward reportedly paid paid $30,000 for her.

- Dale Omenson

Philadelphia: Holiday Music romps

A prospective field of 11 older sprinters shrank to five when six horses scratched rather than run against graded stakes winners Personal First and Shadow Caster in the $50,000 Mr. Nickerson Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

As it turned out, everyone was afraid of the wrong horse.

Locally based Holiday Music outperfomed both Personal First and Shadow Caster by winning the six-furlong race by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:10.28.

Personal First, the 7-5 favorite, was a distant third. Shadow Caster, second choice at 9-5, came in fourth.

- Joe DeVivo

Lone Star: Foul claim disallowed

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Hattiesburg closed with a rush to win the $75,000 Wafare Farm Stakes by a neck over Lady Virginia and then withstood a claim of foul at Lone Star Park. It was another half-length back in third to even-money favorite Cheryl P.

Hattiesburg ($9.40) was declared the winner of the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies after stewards disallowed a foul claim by the rider of Lady Virginia, Carlos Gonzalez, who alleged interference at the top of the stretch.

Hattiesburg is owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt, is trained by Tom Amoss and was ridden by Gerard Melancon.

- Mary Rampellini

Prairie Meadows: Asher scores

ALTOONA, Iowa - Asher put away Croupier in upper stretch and drew clear for a three-length score in the $50,000 Diamond Trail Stakes at Prairie Meadows.

Asher ($3.60), with Sidney Lejeune Jr. aboard, has now won 6 of 23 career starts for trainer Ron Moquett. It was also her third stakes win of 2001. She posted back-to-back stakes scores at Oaklawn in February before finishing off the board in graded stakes in her last two starts. - Dave Basler

River: Mud no problem for 'Creek'

Even-money favorite Across the Creek rallied from the back of the pack to win the $50,000 Tomboy Stakes for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths at River Downs.

Originally scheduled for turf, the Tomboy was transferred to a muddy main track. Time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:48.40.

- Vance Hanson

Europe: Medicean by a neck

Medicean earned his Group 1 stripes at Newbury with a neck victory over Warningford in the one-mile Lockinge Stakes.

Trained by Michael Stoute for Cheveley Park Stud, Medicean had chased the likes on Giant's Causeway and Observatory home in three Group 1's last year. His chance in the Lockinge improved when Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Observatory was withdrawn because of the soft ground.

Kieren Fallon brought the 3-1 Medicean with a late run to lead near the line as the pacesetting 8-5 favorite Swallow Flight faded to be third, a neck behind Warningford.

A rematch between Medicean and Swallow Flight is pending in the Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 2 mile at Royal Ascot on June 19.

- Alan Shuback