07/08/2006 12:00AM

Stone Rain speeds to Whiting win


PLEASANTON, Calif. - Stone Rain ($6.60) was unchallenged on the lead as he romped to victory in the $51,200 Sam J. Whiting Handicap at the Alameda County Fair on Saturday.

Stone Rain, an $80,000 claim in March, notched his fourth straight victory as he ran six furlongs in 1:08.17 to beat late-closing Old Man River by five furlongs.

Stone Rail broke alertly and opened a length on the field in the opening 16th. He was in front by one-half length after a 22.24 opening quarter. Although, he was given a short breather on the turn, he had opened by four at the quarter pole and coasted home.

"He's faster than fast," winning trainer Billy Morey said. "When I saw him in front so quickly, I was really confident. When he was five or six in front at the quarter pole, it's hard not to jump the gun, but I knew everyone would have a lot to do."

Jockey Roberto Gonzalez, winning his third stakes of the meeting, said the strategy was simple.

"I had to get out as quick as I could," he said. "I pushed to be myself and gave myself a half length early. At the 3/8ths, I let out a bit, and he just exploded. I gave him a breather, and when I showed him the whip, he re-broke."

The victory was worth $27,650, lifting Stone Rain's career earnings to $196,950 with eight wins in 19 starts.