07/12/2008 12:00AM

Truth Rules nips Atoned in Long Branch

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Truth Rules extended his winning streak to three with a narrow upset of 9-5 favorite Atoned in the $150,000 Long Branch Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

The Long Branch is the prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3. The first two finishers in the Long Branch are usually extended invitations to Monmouth's premier event. This time there was little separating the top two - only a head.

Truth Rules, at 16-1 the longest shot in the five-horse field, made a strong late run to nip Atoned, who had taken charge in midstretch and looked poised to end a seven-race losing streak.

Truth Rules, a late-developing colt for trainer Nick Zito who was making his stakes debut, had the better finishing kick.

"Mr. Zito told me he would drop back," said jockey Stewart Elliott. "He told me, 'Don't give up on him. He'll keep trying and he'll come running.' Sure enough, that's just what happened.

"The horse left the gate trying to run, but he just doesn't have that kind of speed. He never gave up, and eventually, that got him the win."

The time was 1:45.23 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track, and Truth Rules paid $35.80.

It was another hard-luck loss for Atoned, who has also finished second in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby, and the Spend a Buck Stakes at Monmouth.

Z Humor was third, followed by Hey Byrn and Indy Joe.

Goldsville, Z Humor's Zayat Stable entrymate, was an early scratch.

Harding: Fagedaboudit Sal scores

The upset theme continued in the $70,000 Bob Harding Stakes, where Fagedaboudit Sal ($80.40) led every step in his turf debut.

Pablo Fragoso guided the 5-year-old right to the lead, and they held on for a 1 1/2-length victory over the onrushing Kiss the Kid. A gray New Jersey-bred, Fagedaboudit Sal scored one of the biggest wins of his career.

"We were trying to get to the Hesse Handicap," said trainer Luis Carvajal Jr., referring to the statebred stakes at Monmouth on Aug. 3. "There wasn't a race between now and then, and I didn't want to wait that long, so we took a shot in here."

The time was 1:34.73 for the mile on firm turf.