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Saturday, December 29
Coyote Lakes wins Gallant Fox Handicap again




JAMAICA, N.Y. -- The New York Racing Association might want to consider changing the Gallant Fox Handicap to the Coyote Lakes Handicap for the 2002 running.

On Saturday at Aqueduct, Coyote Lakes, making his fourth consecutive Gallant Fox appearance, won the Grade 3 for the second time. Actually, for the second time in 2001 since the 2000 running was postponed due to a weather-related cancellation and run in 2001.

Coyote Lakes, a 7-year-old, won the $115,400 Gallant Fox, run at 1 5/8 miles on the inner track, by 2 3/4 lengths over Pleasant Divorce. It was another head back to Top Official in third. Grundlefoot, the slight 3-1 favorite over Coyote Lakes, finished sixth in the field of 12.

Jockey Mike Luzzi gave Coyote Lakes a well-judged ride by keeping his mount within firing distance of the early leaders in third position. A rank Paynes Bay set the pace in the three-turn race, but threw in the towel on the last turn after fractions of 49.45 seconds, 1:15.48, and a mile in 1:41.88. Top Official, who sat off Paynes Bay in second, looked like he was in the clear with a furlong remaining, but Coyote Lakes was relentless in his pursuit and drew clear late.

Still, Coyote Lakes's trainer, Bruce Levine, said he had a few anxious moments.

"I didn't know if he would catch Top Official turning for home; I thought we were going to be second," Levine said. "[Coyote Lakes] really surged in the last part of the race."

Luzzi said, "It takes about three-eighths of a mile to get him going, but when you're going a mile and five-eighths you've got the time to do that."

Coyote Lakes carried 116 pounds and covered the distance in 2:45.77 over a fast track.

Coyote Lakes ($8.40) is owned by Roddy Valente.

Levine has no immediate plans for Coyote Lakes, who he said nearly died two years ago from colic.

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