12/11/2004 12:00AM

Truly a Judge earns biggest career win in Native Diver


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Frustrated by a string of losses, the partners that own Truly a Judge considered dropping the gelding into claiming races earlier this year. Eventually, they opted against it, and kept Truly a Judge in stakes and allowance races.

Saturday, that decision looked even wiser when Truly a Judge won the most important race of his career in the $100,000 at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 3 Native Diver marked the 41st career start for Truly a Judge, a 6-year-old gelding.

"It's hard to believe, but he seems to get better with age," trainer David Bernstein said. "He's a good horse. It's hard to find one like him."

Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Truly a Judge ($14.80) led throughout the Native Diver, scoring by 2 1-2 lengths over Dynever, the even-money favorite. Truly a Judge finished 1 1-8 miles in 1:47.06.

Truly a Judge was never seriously threatened. He led by a length through an early pace of 23.67 and 47.50 seconds, closely followed by Black Bart and Supah Blitz.

On the final turn, Supah Blitz faded from contention, leaving Truly a Judge 2 1-2 lengths clear of Black Bart.

Dynever, last on the first turn, rallied along the rail to challenge. He inherited second after Black Bart was pulled up in mid-stretch. Calkins Road, the longest shot in the field at 31-1, finished third in the field of eight.

Truly a Judge races for the partnership of Gaylord Ailshie, Alan Aidekman and Tom Harris who claimed him for $20,000 in 2001. Truly a Judge has won 11 races and $595,131.

The race was marred by an injury suffered to Black Bart, a five-time stakes winner this year. Black Bart was second in mid-stretch when he suffered a fetlock injury to his right hind leg. Black Bart was euthanized, according to track stewards.