02/05/2006 12:00AM

Universal Form shocks Deputy Minister at 50-1

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Universal Form, with Manoel Cruz riding, springs an upset in the $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Universal Form, a winner of only four of his 33 previous starts, saved his best effort for the biggest race of his life when rallying to a stunning one length victory over 4-5 favorite War Front in Sunday's $100,000 at Gulfstream Park. Universal Form, the longest price in the seven horse field, paid $109 to win.

Universal Form had won two of his previous four starts both at the same 6 1/2 furlong distance as the Deputy Minister. But the 5-year-old son of Formal Dinner still appeared overmatched making his first start against graded stakes company in the Deputy Minister.

A suicidal early pace battle between War Front and Friendly Island set the stage for Universal Form's shocking win. The pair battled head to head through fractions of :21.69 seconds and :44.02 for the opening quarter and half mile then bumped briefly while still dueling in early stretch before War Front ultimately edged clear.

Universal Form raced well off the early leaders under jockey Manoel Cruz, commenced his rally leaving the turn, came through a narrow opening while continuing his bid near midstretch and readily ran down the tiring War Front through the final sixteenth of a mile. Canadian sprint champion Judiths Wild Rush, making his first start since Aug. 7, raced in perfect position behind the embattled leaders but came up empty in the final furlong and finished third.

Universal Form completed the distance in 1:16.48 seconds over the fast track. The victory gave his 62 year old trainer Elliston Rolle the most important victory of a training career which began in the Bahamas in 1965 and continued in the U.S. in 1996.

"I thought he could win coming into the race," said Rolle who trains Universal Form for a four man ownership partnership which races under the name of the Universal Xperience. "He's a real professional at the distance and Cruz fits him well."

Rolle said he planned to sit back and enjoy this victory before thinking about where or when he would run Universal Form next.