07/18/2003 11:00PM

Soto remains undefeated


Soto's long-awaited return to the races Saturday turned out to be little more than a public workout.

Facing just four opponents after two horses were scratched, the 3-year-old Soto remained undefeated with an easy 3 3/4-length win in an allowance sprint race at Philadelphia Park.

Soto won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November, but a sore shin has kept him sidelined since then. Saturday, Soto ($3.40) was quickly taken off the rail by jockey Victor Molina and moved to what has been the best part of the track, about four paths off the rail. Soto sat fourth, two lengths off the pace set by Parade of Music.

When Molina asked him to move, Soto swooped to the lead approaching the three-eighths pole and was hand-ridden to the wire.

Soto, now 4 for 4 lifetime, completed the six furlongs in 1:08.80 and ran the last three furlongs in 23.62 seconds.

Trainer Michael Dickinson intends to run Soto next in the Aug. 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park.

* Tri's Passion ($23) blew past early pacesetter Trijonia approaching the turn and withstood a rally by Valley of the Gods to earn her first stakes victory in the $50,000 Fox J.G. Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies.