06/10/2005 11:00PM

Sweet Return captures Whittingham


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Loose leads and slow paces in major stakes at Hollywood Park have produced the highlights of Sweet Return's career.

Sweet Return led throughout the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby to score a 16-1 upset in November 2003. Saturday, the same tactics led to Sweet Return pulling a minor upset in the $350,000 .

Left alone to set fractions of 26.08 and 50.62 seconds, Sweet Return ($10) held off a late run from even-money Red Fort to win by a head.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Sweet Return finished in 2:01.35.

"When I saw the half in 50, I thought he was in the right spot," trainer Ron McAnally said. "The only instructions were to get him to relax."

Sweet Return led by 1 1-2 lengths on the first turn, and 3 1-2 lengths on the second turn.

"The first part, I felt like I was walking," Solis said.

The longshot Deputy Lad was in pursuit of Sweet Return for the first mile, but was passed by Red Fort turning for home. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Red Fort pulled alongside Sweet Return in the final sixteenth, seemed as if he would win, but never reached the front. Red Fort finished 3 1-2 lengths in front of Vangelis in the field of nine.

Owned by John Brunetti's Red Oak Stable, Sweet Return has won 6 of 25 starts and $1,268,731. The Grade 1 Whittingham ended an eight-race losing streak dating back to the Grade 2 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita in March 2004.

*McCann's Mojave, the champion California-bred sprinter of 2004, won his first stakes in more than 14 months in the $91,350 Ack Ack Handicap.

Ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr., McCann's Mojave ($19.60) finished 1 1-2 lengths in front of Congrats. Making his first start for trainer Paddy Gallagher, McCann's Mojave finished 7 1-2 furlongs in 1:27.23.