09/16/2006 12:00AM

Wanderin Boy easily takes Brooklyn

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Wanderin Boy with Javier Castellano riding wins the Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - When the best horse in a race is able to get loose on the lead, it usually makes for very little drama.

That's exactly what happened in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 at Belmont Park, in which Wanderin Boy, under Javier Castellano, was able to control the race from the outset en route to a 1 1/2-length victory over hard-trying Awesome Twist. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Reverberate in third.

Funny Cide finished fourth and was followed by Good Reward and We Can Seek.

It was the seventh victory from 13 career starts for Wanderin Boy, a son of Seeking the Gold who added the Brooklyn to graded stakes victories in the Mineshaft and Ben Ali.

Trainer Nick Zito scratched Wanderin Boy from the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga two weeks ago because he didn't feel Wanderin Boy could clear from his outside post in that two-turn race. Wanderin Boy had the outside again in the Brooklyn, but it was a much shorter field and the Brooklyn was around one turn.

Wanderin Boy, owned by Arthur Hancock, broke on top and ran an opening quarter in 23.58 seconds and the half-mile in 46.45. Though that may be quick for some horses, it was hardly a chore for Wanderin Boy.

"For him, 46 is like 48 for any horse," Castellano said. "He's got natural speed. You can see when I asked him [in the stretch] he took off."

Castellano said he was surprised that Funny Cide wasn't pressing the pace, and he was "very happy" when trainer Rick Violette scratched the speedy Take the Bluff.

Wanderin Boy covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.94 and returned $4 as the favorite.

Good Reward, coming off a second-place finish to Lava Man in the Pacific Classic, was a non-factor in the Brooklyn as the 2-1 second choice. He was beaten six lengths.

"He just seemed like he was working a lot to get across the ground," said jockey Garrett Gomez. "He never really felt comfortable up underneath me and never took me up into the race."

Funny Cide, wheeling back two weeks after he finished eighth in the Woodward, stalked the pace under Cornelio Velasquez, dropped back around the turn, attempted to come on again, but never seriously threatened. He was beaten 5 3/4 lengths.

"I thought that was perfect," Tagg said of Funny Cide's early position. "I didn't tell him to do that. I said don't rush him and don't grab a hold of him, just let him run any way he wants."