09/08/2008 12:00AM

Under Serviced caps Baffert's big weekend


ELMONT, N.Y. - Under Serviced overcame a stumbling start to record a front-running victory in Sunday’s $107,900 Schenectady Handicap, capping a stellar start to the Belmont fall meet for trainer Bob Baffert.

Under Serviced, the only 3-year-old in the field of six New York-bred fillies, stumbled and bumped with Precise Lady coming out of the gate. Under Kent Desormeaux, Under Serviced quickly recovered and made the lead while running an opening quarter in 22.77 seconds. Under Serviced was stalked by favored Light Tactic through a half-mile in 45.67 before running away from that one in upper stretch.

Street Sass rallied four wide into the stretch, but could not catch Under Serviced, who won by 1 1/2 lengths while running six furlongs in 1:09.99. Street Sass was second by a neck over Just Zip It.

Under Serviced, a daughter of Hook and Ladder owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, returned $5.70.

The win capped a strong weekend for Baffert, who on Saturday won the Grade 1 Ruffian with Tough Tiz’s Sis. On Friday, Baffert unveiled a good-looking juvenile colt, Ventana, who won his debut by 5 1/2 lengths. Watson and Weitman owned all three horses.

Baffert’s only loser of the opening week at Belmont was Silver Stetson Man, who finished third behind Merchant Marine in Sunday’s $77,250 Devil Diver Stakes. Merchant Marine, trained by Allen Jerkens, won a pace duel with Silver Stetson Man before holding off a late challenge from Gold Trippi to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Merchant Marine ($3.90), who is now 5 for 6 at Belmont, covered the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.62, just 0.18 of a second off the track record of 1:27.44 set by Commentator on Sept. 24, 2004.