10/02/2005 12:00AM

Speedy He's Got Grit best in Cowdin


ELMONT, N.Y. - He's Got Grit used his brilliant speed to open up a clear early lead then opened up again in upper stretch en route to a 3 1/2-length victory over Dr. Pleasure in Sunday's $77,150 Cowdin Stakes at Belmont Park.

The race was marred by the fatal breakdown of Winning Minister about 30 yards from the wire. He suffered a fractured sesamoid in his left foreleg and had to be euthanized.

John Velazquez, who rode Winning Minister, hit the ground hard and took off his remaining two mounts on the card complaining of soreness to his left forearm. He was taken off the track in an ambulance, and examined at First-Aid. He was not scheduled to go to the hospital.

Meanwhile, He's Got Grit ran his record to 4 for 4 for owner Curtis Green and trainer Steve Asmussen. He was coming off wins in the Tyro Stakes and Sapling at Monmouth Park. Under Jerry Bailey, He's Got Grit ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.75, which was .85 seconds slower than Sensation's time winning the Astarita for 2-year-old females. He returned $3.80 as the favorite.

``He's a brilliantly quick little horse, he laid down serious fractions here,'' said Asmussen, noting his opening half-mile in 44.92 seconds. ``[Bailey] said he spun his wheels a little bit away from there, he got up on his feet, carried him nicely, spurted nice at the head of the lane, and maintained to the wire.''

Asmussen said He's Got Grit would most likely be given an extended break and be pointed ``to some serious sprint races next year.''

Dr. Pleasure looked like he wouldn't hit the board at the top of the lane, but re-rallied to get second by 3 1/2 lengths over Jimmy's Pride.

``He ran like a router,'' trainer John Ward said.

Ward said he would talk to owner John Oxley before deciding whether to point for the Breeders' Cup or point to something like the Nashua, a one mile race run the day before the Breeders' Cup.