03/01/2003 12:00AM

Thady Quill wins Gold Cup

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ST. MICHAEL, Barbados - California invader Thady Quill unleashed a powerful kick in early stretch to beat Zoning in the $110,000 Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup at the Garrison Savannah in Barbados on Saturday.

Thady Quill, a 6-year-old son of Nureyev owned by Barbados resident Mrs. Gay Smith, defeated Zoning by three lengths in a course-record-equaling time of 1:48.60 for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf. Zoning is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Eugene Melnyk.

It was the fourth consecutive victory in the Gold Cup for 84-year-old trainer Bill Marshall and Woodbine-based jockey Jono Jones.

Thady Quill was previously trained by Bobby Frankel. He finished fourth in the Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap on Feb. 1 in his last start.

It was Thady Quill's first victory since July 2001.

The Barbadian colt Firewon, a son of Slew City Slew, finished third, and Warleigh, who was second in the race last year for Melnyk, was fourth.

"I called Mr. Frankel, and he told me to take him out of the race early and then he would give me all he had," said Jones. "And he did exactly that."

Melnyk, who invited 120 friends to join him in a hospitality tent in the infield, wasn't discouraged by another runner-up placing in the biggest race in his home town.

"We knew Thady Quill was in good form," said Melnyk. "But Zoning ran really well and Warleigh was just one race short of his top form."