Updated on 09/18/2011 1:00AM

Surf Cat last to first

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Surf Cat goes from last to first to capture Saturday's $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The quarter-mile rally that saw Surf Cat go from last to first in Saturday's $150,000 at Hollywood Park left trainer Bruce Headley stunned.

"I saw a lightning flash," Headley said. "That was some kind of move."

It was a winning move, as Surf Cat ($2.40) drew clear before the eighth pole and won the Grade 2 LeRoy by 3 1/2 lengths, finishing 1 1/16 miles in a quick 1:40.65.

The victory confirmed that Surf Cat is a leading contender in California's handicap division this year, and possibly in the nation.

Owned by Headley's wife, Aase, and Marsha Naify, Surf Cat, 4, remained unbeaten in 2006 with his win in the LeRoy. Earlier this year at Santa Anita, he won two sprint handicaps.

Because Surf Cat was coming out of shorter races, Headley expected Surf Cat to be in a stalking position, but he was last of five around the first turn after breaking a stride behind the field.

Jockey Alex Solis began to urge Surf Cat with a half-mile remaining. While he did not get an instant response, Solis had Surf Cat moving remarkably well on the final turn, taking the lead with a three-wide rally.

Surf Cat quickly zoomed past pacesetter Spellbinder and Keep on Punching to take control.

Spellbinder, who won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap in February, held second, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Dixie Meister. Keep on Punching and Gallardo completed the order of finish.

Martin Pedroza, who rode Spellbinder, was so impressed by Surf Cat's performance that he gave Solis a congratulatory tap with his whip as they galloped out.

"He was running, but the other horse was too much," Pedroza said of Spellbinder.

Surf Cat has won 7 of 11 starts and $562,420.

"It's really a thrill to have a horse like this," Bruce Headley said.