10/17/2004 11:00PM

Toll Taker rallies well in Astarita

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Toll Taker rallied sharply from off the pace to blow past Summer Raven and Im a Dixie Girl in upper stretch for a 3 1/4-length victory in Sunday's Grade 3, $108,000 for juvenile fillies at Belmont Park.

Im a Dixie Girl, the 8-5 favorite, contested the early pace and held for second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Summer Raven, who looked poised to take control at the top of the stretch but offered no late punch.

Toll Taker, under Eibar Coa, covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.16 and returned $15.40 as the fifth choice in the six-horse field. It was the third straight win for Toll Taker, an Illinois-bred daughter of Bernstein trained by Tim Hills and owned by Patrick Welsh.

"I've been very confident in the filly," said Coa, who has ridden Toll Taker in all five of her starts. "She's improving with each race. She broke sharp, settled, and I knew she'd be tough at the quarter pole."

Flamenco loses tooth, wins Cowdin

One race earlier, Flamenco ($3) held off a late run from Better Than Bonds to win the $80,600 by three-quarters of a length. It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Upscaled. Fusaichi Rock Star finished a well-beaten fourth.

Flamenco, owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, won despite breaking through the gate prior to the start and losing a tooth.

Under Jerry Bailey, Flamenco settled into third position early while Fusaichi Rock Star and Magoo's Magic dueled through an opening quarter in 22.63 seconds. Flamenco came up alongside Fusaichi Rock Star at the five-sixteenths pole, opened up a clear lead in the stretch, and held on to win. Flamenco, a son of Dance Master, covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.20.

Flamenco will probably run next in the Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 2.