03/15/2004 1:00AM

Tronare wins Golden Gate BC Handicap


ALBANY, Calif. - History repeated for 21-year-old trainer Kristin Mulhall as Tronare ($23.40) won the $90,000 Grade 3 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday.

The Chilean-bred Tronare scored his first victory in the United States, defeating favored Soud by one length in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. The winning time on a firm course was 1:48.48. Last fall, stablemate Mister Acpen came north and won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap for Mulhall and rider Roberto Gonzalez.

Although the early fractions were moderate, there was a contentious battle for the lead between Soud and Bring Home Thegold, who faded to last.

Gonzalez had Tronare sitting comfortably in third and began to move up at the 3/8ths pole. Coming into the lane, he moved along side Soud and was able to pull away late after putting Soud in tight quarters along the rail.

"Kristin said to put some run into him early," Gonzalez said. "Once we got out of the chute, I got in a perfect spot. I thought we were going slow, but they were going head and head so I just sat back.

"He relaxed so nice. It felt like he was just galloping. You knew if you asked him, he was going to go. I moved at the 3/8ths pole just to put a little pressure on the leader. I made it a little tight just to intimidate him a little bit. He pulled up a little bit when he got the lead, but I had a lot of horse left."

Soud held second easily as longshot Aly Bubba got to win a three-way photo for third over Gent and Epicentre.

Tronare, second to Mister Acpen in the El Derby in his native Chile in 2002, was purchased along with Mister Acpen out of that race by the Thoroughbred Corp. When Prince Ahmed bin Salman died that summer, Mulhall persuaded Steve Taub to put together a syndicate with Neil Papiano and Noctis Stable to buy both.

The 6-year-old horse earned $41,250 for his third victory in 16 starts and now has career earnings of $98,001.

Mulhall said she would look for a similar spot for Tronare's next start.