12/30/2006 1:00AM

Straight Line wins well


Graded stakes winner Straight Line did more than win Saturday's $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park. He also altered his reputation.

Considered a specialist at seven furlongs to a mile, he showed a new dimension in winning the six-furlong Holiday Cheer, rating behind a fast pace and closing to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Smoke Smoke Smoke. He raced six furlongs in 1:08.40, equaling the Malibu Mint's track record, established in the Weekend Delight Stakes Sept. 23

Sent off at even-money in the field of nine, Straight Line ($4) looked the part of a heavy favorite throughout. Settling in sixth early under leading rider Miguel Mena, he always appeared comfortably placed, rating a few lengths behind the pacesetting Skeleton Crew, who set fractions of 21.65 and 43.85.

Momentarily blocked behind horses leaving the turn, he found clear sailing along the fence in the stretch when Skeleton Crew drifted wide, and thereafter the race was his. Smoke Smoke Smoke, who sat in second virtually from start to finish, was never able to challenge the winner, although he outfinished Sgt. Bert by a neck for second.

Straight Line, a 4-year-old son of Boundary trained by Harvey Vanier, won for the 10th time in 24 starts. He has won $486,137 for owners Nancy Vanier and Cartwright Thoroughbreds.