12/15/2006 12:00AM

Spooky' seeks elusive first stakes win


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's not hard to understand owner Bruce Golden's obsession with the 8-year-old sprinter Spooky Mulder.

With lightning quick speed and a heart the size of a skyscraper, Spooky Mulder has won 28 races from 70 starts in a six-year career spent in several different barns. Golden has claimed Spooky Mulder on three occasions, most recently last month when he took him for $75,000 off Pat Reynolds. On the two previous occasions that Golden has owned him, Spooky Mulder has won 12 races from 28 starts.

"He's a New York favorite, everybody loves Spooky,'' Golden said Friday. "He has a lot of heart. He always gives it his best.''

About the only thing Spooky Mulder has yet to do is win a stakes race. He will get his 16th opportunity to do that in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct. Spooky Mulder finished seventh in last year's Gravesend, but came back to finish second in both the Brutally Frank and Paumonok run over the inner track.

"I don't know if Spooky likes stakes races,'' Golden said. "We put him in a few stakes races and he didn't do too well.''

Golden first became aware of Spooky Mulder in the summer of 2003 when a horse he owned, Pelican Beach, ran in a stakes race at Canterbury Park. Pelican Beach was beaten a nose for win, finishing second, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Spooky Mulder. Three months later, Golden and trainer Scott Lake claimed Spooky Mulder for $25,000.

"Scott really liked the horse,'' Golden said. "We claimed him for $25,000, and ever since then he's been winning races.''

After winning 7 races from 15 starts with him, Golden and Lake lost Spooky Mulder for $65,000 to Mike Gill in August 2004. It wasn't until April 2005 that Golden was able to claim him back for $50,000. From July 2005 until April, Spooky Mulder won 5 races from 13 starts before Reynolds claimed the horse for $100,000.

Spooky Mulder's most impressive race may have been his last. He was chasing Stonewood throughout the race, got passed on the outside by Morine's Victory inside the eighth pole, only to come back between horses at the finish and get the win.

Barcola sold to Reddam

Buoyed by a strong inner-track meet, Stephen Sigler's Winning Move Stable has overtaken Maggi Moss as leading owner in wins on this circuit in 2006. After winning two more races on Friday, Winning Move has 40 wins on the year, 2 more than Moss.

On Friday, Winning Move won with Habsburg and Lightning Stripes and is now 9 for 24 since Aqueduct's inner track opened on Nov. 29.

Habsburg was one of two horses Winning Move purchased from Darley Stable last month. The other, Barcola, won a first-level allowance race by 16 1/2 lengths and earned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

That caught the attention of California-based owner J. Paul Reddam, who bought the 3-year-old Barcola and transferred him to Mark Hennig. The horse is now in south Florida.

"Mark had called me said 'You should watch this,' '' Reddam said. "Certainly his last race was pretty outstanding. You have to wonder if there was something odd with the track; was it the level of competition? What made him wake up?''

Reddam said Barcola could be pointed to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park Feb. 3.

"If he ran back to his Aqueduct race he'd be very competitive in there,'' Reddam said. "He did go an awfully big trip, he did ship, [Hennig] might want to work the horse up to [the Donn]. Hey, we're going to take our shot. I thought the deal was reasonable and I've been anxious to establish a little better stock on the East Coast. Anything I've run there hasn't been very good.''

Half Ours headed south

Half Ours, who came off a 19-month layoff to win a second-level allowance race here on Thursday, was scheduled to leave Saturday for south Florida, where he will train up to a likely stakes assignment at Gulfstream Park.

Half Ours will be based at the Palm Beach Downs training center.

Half Ours remained undefeated in three career starts with a neck victory over City Attraction. The race was run while the track was enveloped in fog, but trainer Todd Pletcher was obviously pleased with the result and said the horse came out of the race well.

"His next race will be anywhere from six furlongs to a mile, but I do think he will stretch out,'' Pletcher said.

Half Ours, a son of Unbridled's Song, was purchased for $6.1 million by Aaron Jones out of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale last month.

No one objects to whip incident

When is a foul not a foul? When no one sees it.

In Friday's third race, Eibar Coa, aboard Lunar Rendezvous, inadvertently struck Just Starting, under Ramon Dominguez, in the face with his whip just outside the eighth pole. Lunar Rendezvous finished second and Just Starting finished fourth.

Dominguez did not claim foul, saying he did not feel his horse get struck by the whip because he was concentrating on riding. After looking at the replay, however, Dominguez said it looked like his horse was struck by the whip.

The stewards did not post the inquiry sign because they didn't see the incident, and made the race official. After reporters inquired about the incident, the stewards reviewed the tape and not all of them were convinced the horse had been struck by the whip.

This was the third straight day there was a whip incident and the fourth time since Nov. 25. On that day, the stewards disqualified Rahys' Appeal from first place in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap after Alan Garcia was ruled to have hit Malibu Mint in the face with a whip. That ruling is under appeal.

* Following Sunday's card, Aqueduct will go dark for nine days. Racing resumes on Wednesday, Dec. 27. Horsemen are reminded that the racing office will be taking double entries on Friday, Dec. 22, for the cards of Dec. 27 and 28.