07/27/2002 11:00PM

Sempai wires Finley Handicap

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. ? Sempai ($6.40) was allowed an uncontested lead and romped to a three-length victory in the $50,770 Ernest Finley Handicap on Saturday at the Sonoma County Fair.

Compromised by a hot pace duel with Fight For Silver in his previous start in the Sam J. Whiting Handicap on June 29 at Pleasanton, Sempai immediately opened a daylight advantage as Fight For Silver was unable to match his 22.06 opening quarter. Sempai won the six-furlong race over late-closing favorite Profound Secret in 1:08.22.

"When I didn't see (Fight For Silver) go with me, I thought I had a good chance," winning jockey Russell Baze said. "When this horse can get a little breather, he's tough to catch."

Sempai has won eight of 16 starts. The $27,610 he won in the Finley boosted his lifetime earnings to $172,525.