05/07/2007 12:00AM

West Coast Flier uses speed to win LaBelle


West Coast Flier, the longest shot in a field of five 3-year-olds, withstood a challenge from Cherokee Country in the stretch to upset the $75,000 Francis "Jock" LaBelle Memorial Stakes on Saturday at Delaware Park.

Bill Place, the 2-5 favorite on the basis of his win in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct last month, was 15 lengths off the early pace and had to settle for third, 1 1/2 lengths behind runner-up Cherokee Country.

West Coast Flier ($34.80), based at Philadelphia Park with trainer Ned Allard, sat off the pace in all five of his previous starts this year. But Jeremy Rose, who picked up the mount late, sent West Coast Flier right to the lead from the rail. West Coast Flier first outdueled Curious Tiger, then refused to fold when Cherokee Country went head to head with him for most of the stretch, pulling away late to prevail by a half-length. The final time for six furlongs on a fast track was 1:09.53.

It was the third win in seven starts for West Coast Flier, who cut back to a sprint after fading to last, beaten nearly 27 lengths, in the one-mile Private Terms at Laurel last time out.