02/27/2006 1:00AM

Turf Paradise: College Graduate closes fastest


College Graduate, fresh off a more than 12-length romp in an allowance race, rallied to win the $40,000 Coyote Handicap. The six-furlong race is the key prep to the meet's marquee race, the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup on March 18.

College Graduate bided his time early, ranged up wide coming into the lane, and drove home to win by three-quarters of a length under Joel Campbell. Cocoa Latte, who also sat back early, rallied to be second, while another closer, Raging Wind, ran on late to get third. Even-money favorite Scottsbluff dueled early but faltered late to finish sixth of seven.

The complexion of the race changed when likely heavy favorite Spanish Chestnut scratched.

College Graduate was timed in 1:09.27 and paid $12.40. The $24,000 winner's share pushed his career earnings to $119,458; he has five wins in 22 starts.