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PULPIT SETTLES FOR SECOND.

Byline: Ed Schuyler Jr. Asociated Press

The fans came to see Pulpit, hyped into a wonder horse, and bet heavily on him, but the colt in the winner's circle after the Florida Derby was Captain Bodgit.

Pulpit, unbeaten in three previous starts after not racing as a 2-year-old, finished second Saturday, but his trainer Frank Brothers said, ``It was probably his best race. He's a young horse. He's still learning.''

Jockey Shane Sellers took a different slant.

``He just wasn't the same horse as last time,'' said Sellers, who had rated Pulpit off the pace to win the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 22, a race in which Captain Bodgit finished third. ``When I asked him for a kick, it just wasn't the same as he has shown in other races.''

Pulpit ran fourth behind Wrightwood, Frisk Me Now and Mitchelle'sallhands through the first half mile completed in 47 3/5 seconds. He was third after three-quarters and second behind Frisk Me Now in the stretch, but then Captain Bodgit, ridden by Alex Solis, blew by the leaders for a 2-1/2-length victory before a crowd of 27,104. Pulpit finished a neck in front of Frisk Me Now, who was 4-1/4 lengths ahead of Jack Flash.

``I'm surprised we won,'' said Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, the syndicate that bought Captain Bodgit in January. ``I didn't think we were ready for today. Now I'm nervous because he may be peaking too soon for the Kentucky Derby.''

The victory was no surprise to winning trainer Gary Capuano.

``He ran a super race,'' said Capuano, 33. ``He's a super horse. The race set up perfect for us.''

Captain Bodgit was sixth after the first half mile and fifth after three-quarters. The colt races with a funny-looking tendon in his left foreleg.

``There's something there, but it's not a torn tendon,'' Capuano said.

The third meeting between Captain Bodgit and Pulpit is expected to be in the Blue Grass on April 12 at Keeneland.

Captain Bodgit earned $300,000 for his first victory in three starts this year and paid $9.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Pulpit returned $2.20 and $2.10, and Frisk Me Now was $2.80 to show. The winner reached the end of the 1-1/8 miles under scale weight of 122 pounds in 1:50 3/5 on a fast track.

Completing the order of finish after Jack Flash were Wrightwood, Michell'sallhands, Acceptable and Hurry the Dance.

Pulpit, who suffered a stress fracture in his left foreleg in March and did not race last year, has made four starts in eight weeks.

``I'm a little disappointed,'' Brothers said. ``Hopefully, he's fine and he'll go forward. It would have been great for the sport if he had stayed undefeated. But if he comes out (of the race) OK, I think he'll still be in the picture.''

That picture now prominently features Captain Bodgit.

Three Kentucky Derby eligibles ran 1-2-3 in the 7-furlong Swale. Confide took charge in the stretch and drew off to a 7-1/2-length victory over Country Rainbow, with The Silver Move another 1-1/4 lengths back. It was The Silver Move's first start since he won the 1-1/8-mile Remsen on Dec. 1 at Aqueduct. He had been out of action because of quarter crack.

Confide, ridden by Mike Smith, was timed in 1:23 1/5 and paid a winning mutuel of $4.60.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 16, 1997
Words:574
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