01/24/2009 12:00AM

True Quality withstands pressure

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Staking his claim as the fastest gun in the East, True Quality turned back multiple challenges and drew clear to post the first stakes victory of his career in Saturday's $69,330 Paumonok Stakes at Aqueduct.

Sent off as the favorite in the 101st running of the Paumonok, True Quality ($4.20) broke on top under C.C. Lopez, and was pressed from both flanks through a hotly contested first quarter that was run into a stiff headwind. He remained head to head with Place Your Bet as they separated from the field though a half-mile in 45.74 seconds - easily the fastest half on Saturday's all-sprint card.

"He got tried every step of the way and never caught a breather," said John Campo Jr., who trains True Quality for Paraneck Stable. "He ran for six furlongs."

True Quality ran the six furlongs in 1:10.92 to win by 3 3/4 lengths over a fast inner track. Place Your Bet was a clear second over Ravalo, whose jockey, Mike Luzzi, had to steady inside on the turn. Serious Fever and Accredit completed the order of finish.

"It started to get tight at the three-eighths pole," said Lopez, who is 4 for 6 aboard the 4-year-old True Quality. "I had Mike on the inside, and when he eased out of that spot, I just went on through. When he changed leads, I tapped him on the shoulder and he went about his business and drew off."