09/28/2001 11:00PM

Timboroa beats King Cugat in Turf Classic

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BELMONT, N.Y. - Timboroa continued Bobby Frankel's magical year Saturday in a gate-to-wire, three-length victory over odds-on favorite King Cugat in the $750,000, Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational before 7,732 at Belmont Park.

Cetewayo rallied to be third, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Blazing Fury. With the Flow and Mutafaweq completed the order of finish. Slew Valley and Honor Glide scratched.

As a result of the two scratches, Timboroa was the only speed of the race, and he took full advantage of that scenario. Breaking from the outside post under Edgar Prado, Timboroa floated to the lead while registering fractions of 24.74 seconds, 50.99, 1:16.54, 1:41.39 and 2:05.28 over a Widener turf course listed as good. Mutafaweq applied pressure to his outside down the backside, but Timboroa had plenty left when King Cugat came to him around the turn and he ran away from that rival down the stretch.

"Around the turn, when I asked my horse for a little more he gave me that quick acceleration and I knew I had a chance to win the race," Prado said. "When I hit him a couple of times he really took off."

Timboroa covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:29.43 and paid $8.70 to win.

"I was going to send him anyway, but when I saw those two scratches it was a no-brainer," said Frankel, who recorded his eighth stakes win on the NYRA circuit with his seventh horse.

Despite the sharp performance, it is unlikely that Timboroa would run in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf because he would have to be supplemented at a six-figure sum. Frankel said it is more likely that Timboroa would be pointed to the $4 million Japan Cup on Nov. 25.

The lack of pace appeared to inhibit King Cugat, who failed to win a Grade 1 race again, in his sixth attempt. Jockey Jerry Bailey said a combination of things may have led to King Cugat's defeat.

"It's not the firm ground he loves, it's at the absolute limit that he wants to go and there's no pace," Bailey said. "You put the three things together ... it's going to be tough to win."

Finder's Fee takes Gallant Bloom

Finder's Fee, subbing for an injured Country Hideaway, got up in the final strides to nip Cedar Knolls by a neck in the $129,225, Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap. It was three-quarters of a length back to Gold Mover. Dat You Miz Blue, the 4-5 favorite, finished last and may have bled.

Dream Supreme, the morning-line favorite, was scratched because of a bruised left front foot.

Finder's Fee ran the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.60 and paid $9.60 to win. Trainer Shug McGaughey had planned to run Country Hideaway in the race, but she injured an ankle.