05/21/2004 11:00PM

Wire Bound keeps improving

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MIAMI - Wire Bound was a useful sprinter on dirt, but since being switched to the grass by trainer Manny Criollo earlier this spring the 3-year-old gelding has not only handled two turns like an old pro, he has quickly become a stakes winner. Saturday at Calder, he rallied to an easy 2 3/4-length victory over Gin Rummy Champ in the $75,000 Simply Majestic Stakes.

Wire Bound, second in the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes on the dirt at Tampa Bay Downs in his 3-year-old debut, gave an indication of what was to come when he registered a half-length victory over Gin Rummy Champ in his grass debut here April 26. In the Simply Majestic, Wire Bound had an even easier time with Gin Rummy Champ after getting a perfect trip under jockey Julio Garcia.

As expected, Austin Barber set the early pace in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, with Gin Rummy Champ stalking the leader under a strong hold from jockey Aurelio Toribio Jr. Garcia was content to keep Wire Bound along the hedge and approximately four lengths off the lead for the opening six furlongs. Wire Bound launched his bid while angling out entering the stretch, overtook the leaders near the sixteenth pole, and readily drew clear.

Gin Rummy Champ, racing in blinkers for the first time, held second by a neck over the 9-5 favorite, Capias, who never threatened after breaking slowly and trailing early.

Wire Bound returned $16.60 after covering the distance in 1:39.74 over a firm course.

"He's really taken to the turf, and adding blinkers helped him too," said Criollo, who trains Wire Bound for the Silver Diamond Thoroughbreds Inc and added blinkers to Wire Bound's equipment two races ago. "We'll look for turf races from now on, but if they come off he can run well on the main track, too."