07/21/2003 12:00AM

Sunday's Stakes Recaps

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Euros finish one-two in American Derby

Evolving Tactics, the even-money favorite, gamely held off a belated run by Californian to post a neck victory Sunday in the Grade 2, $250,000 American Derby at Arlington Park.

Patrick Smullen was aboard Evolving Tactics ($4), an Irish-bred colt. Making his U.S. debut for trainer Dermot Weld, Evolving Tactics got a great tracking trip from just behind front-running Gato Gato Gato before powering to the front after turning for home.

British-bred Californian, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, came charging after Evolving Tactics but was too late. "I delivered my challenge as soon as we straightened up in the stretch, and he went away and won quite well," said Smullen.

The American Derby is the second leg of the Mid-America Triple, which ends Aug. 16 with the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. Evolving Tactics will run back in the Secretariat, said Weld, who also said that his star 3-year-old filly, Dimitrova, will try older fillies and mares in the Grade 1 Beverly D. the same day.- Marty McGee

Fort Erie: Mud doesn't slow down Wando

FORT ERIE, Ontario - The rains came at Fort Erie, but the muddy going couldn't keep Wando from his appointed rounds as he led throughout for a four-length victory in the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes.

The Prince of Wales victory, coming on the heels of Wando's equally impressive score in the Queen's Plate, gave Wando a second leg up on his quest for a Canadian Triple Crown.

A win in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Woodbine on Aug. 9, would make Wando the seventh horse to pull off the Canadian Triple since its inauguration in 1959 and the first since Peteski in 1993. It would also earn bonuses of $550,000 to his owner, Gustav Schickedanz, including $50,000 as breeder of the colt.

"As long as he's healthy, he'll be there," said Schickedanz, after watching Wando ($2.60) dominate six fellow Canadian-bred opponents in the 1 3/16 mile Prince of Wales. "It will be a pleasure."- Bill Tallon

Hollywood: First big win for young trainer

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Puerto Banus gave trainer Kristin Mulhall her first win in a graded stakes in the Grade 2, $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Puerto Banus ($25.80) rallied from seventh to win the Grade 2 Sunset by a half-length over Cagney. Continental Red, the 2-1 favorite, finished third in the field of eight.

Mulhall, 20, began training last summer. Mulhall nearly had a graded stakes win earlier in the day when Californian finished second in the Grade 2 American Derby at Arlington Park.

The Sunset was the first stakes win for the 4-year-old Puerto Banus, who was acquired in a multi-horse private transaction in May by Steve Taub, Neil Papiano, and Noctis Stable. - Steve Andersen

Belmont: Well Fancied handles route

ELMONT, N.Y. - Well Fancied, who had previously never won at beyond seven furlongs, answered any questions about his ability to handle a route of ground by posting a front-running 4 1/2-length victory in the $113,100 Evan Shipman Stakes for New York-breds before a closing-day crowd of 9,062 at Belmont Park.

The victory helped cap a superb meet for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who won two races on Sunday's card and finished with 22 winners from 82 starters. Though he finished a distant second behind the record-setting Todd Pletcher (40 wins from 133 starters), Dutrow had a winning percentage of 27.

Well Fancied was one of three winners ridden by Edgar Prado on the card. Prado finished the meet with 59 wins, second to John Velazquez, who won his third consecutive Belmont spring-summer meet, with 70 winners.- David Grening

Monmouth: Deputy Storm preps for Sapling

OCEANPORT, N.J. - There have been many joyous celebrations in the Monmouth Park winner's circle but few have matched owner James Spence's reaction following the four-length victory by Deputy Storm in the $50,000 Tyro Stakes.

Flashing a wide grin, Spence sprinted onto the track to greet and pet his 2-year-old colt. Spence had enthusiastic high-fives and a hug for jockey Joe Bravo.

If this was cloud nine, Spence was in no hurry to get off.

Deputy Storm, a $340,000 yearling purchase, triggered the party with an easy win in Monmouth's traditional prep for the Grade 3, $100,000 Sapling Stakes on Aug. 9.

"The Sapling would be a logical spot since he's run well over this track," Spence said.

Only the Best ($10.40) took the co-featured $50,000 Anderson Fowler Stakes for 3-year-olds going five furlongs on the turf.

- Mike Farrell

Other Sunday stakes

o Strut the Stage ($6.10) overhauled even-money favorite Perfect Soul at the sixteenth pole before edging away for 1 1/2-length victory in the $330,900 Chinese Cultural Center Stakes at Woodbine. Wake at Noon ($10.90), the 2002 Canadian Horse of the Year, led throughout the supporting feature, the $106,000 Izvestia Stakes.

o Breaking sharply under Gerard Melancon, Lac Laronge ($3.20) dueled early before drawing clear to a 2 3/4-length win the $50,000 Arcadia Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

o Irish Ides ($12.60), considered by trainer Greg Gilchrist only "number 3 or 4 on the depth chart" among his 2-year-old fillies, rallied for a half-length victory in the $53,550 Solano County Juvenile Filly Stakes at the Solano County Fair. Earlier, Smoking Joe ($11.40) handed world champion mule Black Ruby her second straight loss, winning the $10,000 Millennium Mule Challenge by a half-length.

o Wage a Penny ($3) scored her second straight dominating win at Colonial Downs when she romped by seven lengths in the $50,000 Tippett Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.