07/11/2009 12:00AM

Tuscan Evening stalks and pounces

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Showing a new dimension but winding up with the same result, Tuscan Evening sat off the pace and then gamely outdueled Patricia's Gem to score her third straight victory on Saturday in the for older female turf runners at Hollywood Park.

Normally a front-runner, Tuscan Evening ($7.20), the favorite, had to sit second during the early going as Patricia's Gem, the second choice, set off for the lead through fractions of 23.82 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.36 seconds for a half-mile. As the field neared the far turn, Tuscan Evening edged closer under jockey Rafael Bejarano, setting the stage for a spirited battle through the final quarter-mile.

Tuscan Evening poked her head in front just inside the furlong pole, but Patricia's Gem - who had won three straight and was making her stakes debut - refused to surrender and bravely battled back, but Tuscan Evening narrowly prevailed.

Gotta Have Her was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third, with the underachieving Visit fourth in the field of eight.

Tuscan Evening completed one mile on firm turf in 1:33.71, with a final furlong in 11.49 seconds and a final quarter-mile in 22.88 seconds.

Tuscan Evening, 4, has now won five times in six starts since being imported from her native Ireland by owner William de Burgh. She was winless in 11 starts overseas, but did finish second in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.

"I talked to Rafael, and the strategy was to see if she could lay off the pace since the other speed, Patricia's Gem, was inside her," said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Tuscan Evening. "I thought she'd be about a half-length behind, but she looked real comfortable being a length behind, or a little more. She showed another dimension."

Hollendorfer said Tuscan Evening could make her next start at Del Mar, perhaps in the Grade 1 John Mabee Stakes on Aug. 16, or go to Arlington the previous weekend for the Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 8.